Thursday, March 18, 2010


(2008, Warner Music Group)


The kings of experimental rock craft a modern classic in one of the world's biggest stadiums.

If you haven't yet had the privilege of witnessing this three-piece in action, H.A.A.R.P is your next port of call.  Recorded in London's new-look Wembley Stadium, this two disc CD and DVD set captures Muse's biggest concert to date.  You know you've hit the big time when your music inspires a moshing frenzy in a 90, 000 strong crowd.  Oh, and they did that two nights in a row.

For any band, this is no easy feat.  But Muse are no strangers to fame, acclaim and adoring fans.  Take this for example, I saw Muse for the second time this year at the Gold Coast leg of the Big Day Out festival.  Waiting patiently at the front of the Blue stage (not so silently wishing Powderfinger would stop playing already), I was surrounded by a crowd much like myself.  Except for one.  An Amish man in a wide-brimmed straw hat, white button up shirt and black suit pants stood a few metres from me.  I thought it strange that a man dedicated to following a religion based on resisting the modern way of living, should be at a music festival in 2010.  That was until I saw his suspenders emblazoned with the Muse logo.

Like I said, this is no average band.  And this is no average record.

H.A.A.R.P trumps all of Muse's studio efforts hands down.  From lead singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy's improvisations throughout rock anthem 'Knights of Cydonia', to the echo of the crowd chanting every word to 'Time is Running Out', this is the quintessential Muse album.  With 14 tracks taken from all of their then four albums, this compilation doubles as a best of.  Absolution, the album that cemented Muse among rock's finest, is well represented.  The catchy riff of 'Hysteria' has the crowd in hysterics and the shredding of Bellamy's guitar in the opening of 'Stockholm Syndrome' has listeners in awe.

I'm not usually one for music DVDs.  So when I purchased this CD/DVD set, I figured the DVD component would get a look over at most.  I didn't expect to find myself glued to the TV screen, transfixed by the musicianship and, quite honestly, smitten by Matt Bellamy's stage presence.  This is the sign of a true classic.  An album that makes you sing at the top of your lungs, compels you to queue for hours on end because you just HAVE to see them live and an album that you can't help but share with everyone possible.

Take my word for it, H.A.A.R.P is 20 dollars well spent.  But if you find yourself with a little extra cash, Muse are set to head back to Australia in November of this year.  And they're bringing the whole Resistance tour with them.

Upside: Audience interaction and rawness of the sound makes you feel like you're at a Muse concert

Downside: You're not actually at a Muse concert

Best Lyrics: "I wanted freedom, bound and restricted/ I tried to give you up but I'm addicted/ Now that you know I'm trapped, sense of elation/ You'd never dream of breaking this fixation/"

Sounds Like: The definition of 'epic'.  In other words, Queen.

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