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Muse’s "Live At Rome Olympic Stadium" Reviewed


Pyramid scheme

I attended the premiere of Muse’s concert movie ’Live At Rome Olympic Stadium’ at the Vista Theater in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and all I can say is that it was ridiculously over the top. I mean, if you are into this kind of monster concert, you will be blown away, because it is really impressive, the images are clear as an eagle vision (it is released in 4K, an ultra high definition which has 8.8 million pixels, so four more times than the standard one), and the views over the crowd and the stage make you believe you are right there, in the middle of this sea of people having the time of their life apparently.

I saw Muse at the Greek theater in 2006, when they were still human I guess, because I would not say that their 2013 July concert in Rome wagon human scale! They definitively have reached a level of machinery grandiosity, of large-scale spectacle rarely done in concert, but I am not really a reference as I don’t attend this kind of stadium rock concerts. Anyway, if you want some hard facts, the concert was filmed at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on July 6 2013 in front of 60,963 people, using sixteen 4K HD cameras, a crane, a towercam and a spidercam, as well as 120 lines of multi-track audio recording; so it’s clear they wanted to reach something close to perfection.

And during 1 hour and half, you get everything in your face, these crystal clear images of Matt Bellamy singing all Muse’s greatest hits (‘Knights of Cydonia’, ‘Supermassive Black Hole’, ‘Starlight’,…) with his operatic falsetto. Muse could have stayed at a Greek-theater modest format but they chose to expand at this Roman Empire format, and each song is performed as if it was an opening for the Olympic Games.

‘This is the biggest tour we’ve done in terms of scale and production value’ has declared the band, ‘It’s definitely the show we’re most proud of’, which makes me sure they really want to take this pompous direction. It’s overpolished, over produced, over the top and Muse’s fans are certainly gonna love it! In the theater, people were applauding after the songs and many of them were wearing their Muse t-shirt as if they were attending a real concert. And why wouldn’t they have cheered up? Each seat was a very comfortable view of each hair on Bellamy’s head, a much better situation than sweating in the middle of this sea of people.

The décor is that of a super-production with cartoons of Pope Francis (the Italians didn’t seem to complain), Obama and Angela Merkel dancing over ‘Supremacy’ or ‘Panic Station’, or real actors arriving on stage to embody the songs such as this mad Wall Street man throwing bank notes at the crowd during ‘Animals’, or a sexy secretary pouring gasoline all over herself during ‘Feeling Good’. These stage antics, filmed in black and white, were kind of distracting from the show itself, but at this point everything was a distraction from the music, the lights, the camera effects, the split screen, the costume change, and Bellamy’s incessant speedy runs on the long stage extension splitting the crowd. 

Despite only 20 out of the 27 songs being  included, the film is epic in the wide-screen sense of the term, these guys sure saved all their stamina to prove they are the rock stadium characters they wanted to be and if you are a Muse fan you will sure applause to their triumph, but if you are not a Muse fan, this Roman games may look like a bad parody of a band that I used to like. They have never been really subtle, but with this bigger-is-always-better attitude, they have reached a new level, and Bellamy’s ego is so ready to explode at any moment, that it’s difficult to not see Muse as Bellamy’s backup band. He doesn’t play guitar that much by the way, but carries it behind his back like a trophy, and often goes behind the piano for the romantic ones, triggering some cliché kisses between lovers in the crowd. Bellamy goes to great length to conquer Rome, speaking Italian, doing a stadium run-up with the Italian flag around his neck and touching the hands of many people. At this moment, he looked like a victorious gladiator, but this may have been the most human part of the show! Most of the time, the perfection of the images and the sound reflected an unexpected coldness for a Roman summer night.

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