many years ago, i went to see a band called live (the mid-90’s zen alt-rock band of selling the drama fame) at the now-demolished leeds town & country club. we decided to go a bit late as we couldn’t be arsed to watch the support act. by the time we made it into the venue, we managed to catch the last few tunes of a band from devon called muse. after the nirvana debacle in medical school, i still haven’t learnt my lesson.

i started listening to them proper after meeting my current sheffield circle of friends. you know how your generation have this one band that you listen to. in school, it was metallica and in university, nirvana or pearl jam, for mine. these guys are, shall i politely say, half a generation apart. and they listen to / jam with muse. i should say they have good taste. the neon would agree wholeheartedly with me that any british band (proper ones, not flippin’ take that) worth their salt that is out there can kick any manufactured american band’s arse. so, when muse decided to pay sheffield a visit playing a few songs, we got standing tix which, like most shows i’ve been to this year, sold out by the afternoon.

the opener for the night was a semi-avantgarde band from london called the noisettes. as in NOISE-ettes, not the french for kacang hazel. a three-piece that sounds pretty solid as fcuk, with the lead vocalist changing from either a guitar or bass. she had a real strong yet kooky voice (described as “billie holliday on PCP” on their site). the drummer was this mop of hair bear-like dude bashing the skins with much aplomb. great sounding band, even when they were bass guitar-less.

matt bellamy got on stage at quarter past nine playing take a bow. the set was space age-like with this massive inverted cone with lights on stage right. went well with the song. only midway in the song did the cone ‘lift off’ to reveal dom howard behind his drumkit. the crowd pushed forwards on the opening notes of new born. i saw two parents grabbed their kid away from the melee. i thought they were too far in the middle to have their kid with them. and, god, did the band rock.

matt’s one accomplished musician. he shreds, sings beautifully and was really class on the piano (like the rachmaninoff-esque solo on butterflies & hurricanes). he switches between the guitar and piano rather fluidly. i just love three-piece bands that sound big! i felt that some of the newer songs are quite new order-ish. they played a couple more new tunes like problematique before matt had his 10k manson guitar wailing like a banshee on plug in baby for another audience-going-apeshit sesh. the band does know how to cool off the audience in between the hard ones. we relaxed to the jam sesh that was forced in before going mad again for the aptly-titled hysteria. how chris wostenholme plays the bass riff effortlessly throughout the song (pasal dia tulis lagu tu is the obvious retort, i know).

after the majestic invincible, we had supermassive black hole which was just superb, with these robot graphics in the background going in sync. time was running out reminded us of our plea-for-a-singer youtube ad. starlight sounded somewhat heavier, sans the immense lasers they had at the MTV awards show. we had to make do with, err.. stars in the backdrop. they ended the main set with frenzied stockholm syndrome.

they got back onstage with my second best-loved tune, citizen erased (why didn’t you guys play dead star?!!). the drum intro was just eardrum-pounding (the PA was ace, by the way, fidelity was ultra-superb) and then you hear that harmonic-ladened riff. blissssss. and, oh, by the time they played bliss, these large balloons started rolling out onto the audience. as in really massive ones, which audience took to bouncing them off and bursting them with lighters. they got back for a second encore with hoodoo. as my friends once told me, matt doesn’t say much apart from “thank you“. i think he said “are you okay in the back there?” once tonight. no matter, they finished off with their new single, knights of cydonia (check out their quirky new vid). complete with a karaoke backdrop!

kazman and wong got to the front barrier by the third song. miji, kere and i were separated by the audience who were doing the brownian motion. but, what a night.

hallam FM arena, sheffield 18.11.06 set: take a bow / new born / butterflies & hurricanes / map of the problematique / city of delusion / plug in baby / forced in / hysteria / soldier’s poem / invincible / supermassive black hole / time is running out / starlight / stockholm syndrome / encore 1: citizen erased / bliss / encore 2: hoodoo / knights of cydonia