Black Hole Sun (20060712 Kerrang article)

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Black Hole Sun

A supermassive return for Matt Bellamy and Co

THE HANDMADE sign held by the hopeful soul, patiently stationed by the entrance of the bustling Empire reads: 'NEED A TICKET, PLEASE HELP'. Frankly, you don't fancy his chances. Not tonight. Not when it's just five days before the release of Muse's fourth album, 'Black Holes And Revelations', and not when tonight is the night the band have decided to mark their first proper UK performance in nearly three years with a free show for competition winners at this mid-sized theatre. You'd have to be insane to part with a ticket.

Muse gigs have always carried a sense of spectacle to match even their grandest of their musical ideas, but the feverish excitement from tonight's crowd comes not only from a close-up chance to see a band last seen filling Earls Court twice over, but also to see where Muse could have possibily gone after 2003's Armaggedon-inclined opus, 'Absolution'. Then again 'Take a Bow' unfurls from a single piano riff into a symphonic supernova - complete with cataclysmic big ban finale - it seems that following up an album that began with the end of the world is less concern when you have the whole solar system at your disposal.

What's impressive about the new material isn't just the fact that the neo-clubland pulse of 'Map Of The Problematique' or the groovalicious shakedown of single 'Supermassive Black Hole' showing Muse to be masters of where-do-you-want-to-go-today? reinvention, but also how well it already translates to a live environment. For all their technical virtuosity and imagination, there's an underlying, elemental energy to all Muse performances that can condense the most outlandish of impulses into a bullet-point blitzkrieg of knock-out intensity and heart-bursting song - one that needs no aditional explanation.

The fact that Matt Bellamy says barely two words to his audience all night scarcely matters when he's there, flailing about his piano for 'Butterflies And Hurricanes' Rachmaninov-style breakdown, demolishing his fretboard for 'Stockholm Syndromes Slayer-baiting overdrive, unleashing noisy streams of alien feedback between songs - less still when he's flanked on all sides by an aurora borealis of flashing video screens and giant, transporter room lighting tubes that complete with arena sized sound levels for sensory dominance.

It's a testament for their forward that they close the evening not with the familiar chart triumphs of 'Bliss' or 'New Born' but another new track, 'Knights Of Cydonia' - a call-to-arms berkshek-athon of helium prog lunacy, spaghetti western swagger and Led Zeppelin bombast that, more than anything tonight, offers the best indication of where Muse are at right now. Which means that 2006 is about to get a whole lot more exciting

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