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5 stars Here I am rating this album after only having it for a few days, something I swore I'd never do. Worse, it's a live album, and I've never come across a live album as good as its studio counterpart. So, either the pills are no longer working, or there's something special about this album. I suspect the latter.

I purchased the contents of the double album (one CD, one DVD) from iTunes, and immediately found myself immersed in MUSE's intoxicating mixture of bombastic pop tunes and delicate prog sensibility. This band is the only progressive band currently producing No. 1 albums on the general charts, so whether you think they're any good or not, you ought to pay attention to them: they're influencing the shape of music.

This album serves as a Greatest Hits collection with an emphasis on their most recent album (as with all live shows). But what makes this CD/DVD set special is that in many cases the live versions are dramatically superior to their studio counterparts. This is particularly true of their earlier material, which was less progressive in its arrangement. These songs have been with the band longer, and they have experimented with many of them, pouring extra rhythms and keyboards over them, or giving them extended central breaks with grand piano or sfx to the fore. This brings them into line with their more recent material, much of which is - to my mind - pure prog rock. Highlights are 'Knights of Cydonia' - played as per album - 'Butterflies and Hurricanes' - an extension of the album version - 'New Born' and 'Stockholm Syndrome', both of which are much better than their studio counterparts. However, there isn't a weak song here. BELLAMY is a master of pacing a concert, so we are taken to the brink, then eased down into the depths, only to be raised up again repeatedly. Many of the songs sport new progressive arrangements, and if I've heard the rumours correctly MUSE may produce a full-blown prog album some time soon. Certainly if this live album is any indication they certainly have the chops for it.

I attended a MUSE concert in December 2007 - one of the very best concerts I've ever been to - and I can see why they continue to win awards for their live performances. Their energy, virtuosity and rapport with the fans must be the envy of other bands. This is communicated unequivocally on the DVD, which consists of twenty songs from their two-night performance at Wembley in 2007. After watching this, listening to the CD seems tame by comparison.

I understand that this band is categorised as prog-related, and is not seen as heartland prog. If what is meant by that is intricate symphonic epics or avant-garde experiments, then I concur. But if you want pure bombast, music that spits fire and performances that are always wholehearted and often excellent, this live album ought to be at the top of your shopping list. Track selection is excellent, sound quality is superb, and the video is a true and faithful representation of a night of sonic bliss. I've never enjoyed a live album as much as this - it replaces 'Live at Fillmore East' as my favourite live album.

Report this review (#165627)
Posted Friday, April 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you buy only one Muse release, makes sure it's this one. This was compiled from two sold- out shows at Wembley; the DVD has one show, the CD the other. Both have pretty much the same setlist but the DVD has songs not on the CD and vice versa. I would say the songs here are at least equal to or superior than their studio versions. In fact, this release just proved to me how great sounding Muse's studio albums are: not too compressed or clipped or any of that crap you get with most modern releases. I like how both shows start with Prokofiev's "Dance Of The Knights" from Romeo & Juliet, then goes straight into "Knights Of Cydonia". Get it? The knights references. Although I was familiar with the Prokofiev piece I didn't know what it was called, and I assume the majority of the audience for these shows didn't either. Muse could of just played Holst's "Mars" and it wouldn't have made a difference.

The DVD is one the best concert films I've ever seen, very well made. From a purely musical standpoint the CD and DVD versions of these songs sound about equal. Too bad in this day and age if you want to sell a CD you have to include a DVD with it. A shame. If Paris Hilton put out a new CD and it including the 'One Night In Paris' video on DVD, I would probably buy it, but just for the DVD. Sadly I think we are witnessing this band at it's peak on this set. The Resistance was awful, and I already thought Black Holes was a step down from Absolution. But if they can sell-out Wembley like it ain't no thang, all the power to them. This band, of course, is often compared to Radiohead. But Radiohead do not have the energy and excitement in a live setting that this trio does.

My biggest complaint is that there is only one song from their debut album Showbiz. I never liked that album but wish they could have included a few songs from it, just to hear more interesting live versions. They also include too many songs from Black Holes, which was, of course, their latest album at the time. Overall, the DVD is fantastic and the sound quality of both discs is superb. 4 stars.

Report this review (#303881)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Muse's studio releases have generally struck me as being merely good. They're certainly far better than a lot of other mainstream rock music out there, but they also come across as being a bit by-the-numbers and predictable, and the energy level isn't what the material demands. I'll listen to them occasionally, but they're generally lacking the fire that's necessary to keep a recording in regular rotation for me.

The same can't be said, however, for the band's live performances. From start to finish, on both the CD and the DVD here, the band's performance is absolutely incendiary. Indeed, I'm having a difficult time thinking of many other modern rock acts who have this much energy live. Essentially every other song on here is vastly superior to its studio counterpart, and on many of them the band stretches out and improvises at length, making the CD and DVD far from retreads of the same material.

My only complaint is, as is the case with many modern rock recordings, with the sound quality; it suffers from the same "loudness war" issues that most modern rock recordings do, although fortunately it's not a Death Magnetic or Raw Power-level disaster. Regardless, it does keep the set from being as purely enjoyable as it ought to be.

It's not enough to keep me from recommending this set, though. If you acquire only one Muse recording, you should unquestionably make it this one. Indeed, I'd say this set is so good as to make the studio versions effectively superfluous. Now if only they'd release a set collecting the highlights of their later work...

Report this review (#1579519)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2016 | Review Permalink

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