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Do you know where Burton's is, mate?

It was a pleasant surprise on Friday morning to be offered some tickets for the Muse gig at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and there was no way that I could turn them down. It turned out to be a day that was by turns wonderful and irritating.

It started badly when I had to share the tube with the kind of half wits that thought that the “Wood” in St. John’s Wood was funny and that swearing in front of kids was both adult and clever. This was soon solved when I got off at Finchley Road where I was meeting my friend before the final journey up to Wembley Park. Whilst I was waiting, a certain Mayor turned up on the platform and boarded a north-bound Jubilee Line train. I have always heard tales that he still uses the Tube and it was great to see them confirmed even on a day when half the network was down.

First things first, the Stadium is impressive. Although I have watched it being built from afar you can only really appreciate the scale of the building from up close. Put simply, it is huge. The tickets that I had been given were in the Club Wembley section which was to the back right of the stage and the view that we had was of the whole stadium. For a football match this view would have been stunning. Unfortunately for a gig they weren’t as amazing.

First up (well first for us) were the Dirty Pretty Things. There isn’t much I can say about this except to say that they were disappointing. They were not helped by the acoustic at Wembley which is not unlike listening to music played at great volume in a swimming pool but they didn’t use the size of the stage and certainly didn’t seem to engage with the audience at all. They seemed to be performing in exactly the same manner that they would have done if they had been at a dark underground venue in Camden.

Next were The Streets. I wasn’t expecting them to do well, partly again due to the acoustic and partly because I never imagined them to work well in a Stadium environment. I was wrong. Mike Skinner got the crowd going, they used all the stage, their music didn’t do too badly with the echo and they genuinely seemed to be having a great time on stage. The beat was infectious and summer-y and somehow they got away with repeatedly singing the chorus to “Radio Ga Ga” which really should have been crass but wasn’t. My respect for The Streets (which was pretty high already) has increased off the back of this performance. They finished off with something a bit more rocky which, frankly, in one minute put the Dirty Pretty Things to shame.

It was at some point during The Streets that the seats behind us were taken by a group who then proceeded to do their best to ruin the rest of the performance. The ring leader was an irritating man who seemed to have an inability to shut up. We learnt all sorts of fascinating facts about him (he works for a major football team, don’t you know, and that was how he had blagged these seats). Although, it later turned out that when he said “worked for” he meant “worked at a burger bar in the Stadium” which is somewhat less impressive. They proceeded to spill their drinks all over our bags (and blame the people behind them), smoke – Wembley is smoke free – and talk loudly, more like shout at each other, through all of the performance. The problem with the acoustic is that, despite turning the sound on stage into an echo-laden mess, you can hear perfectly what is being shouted directly behind you. It wasn’t just us that were effected – the people in front of us got up and moved after some significant looks were ignored.

Anyway. Muse. I’ve always thought that there were the rock equivalent of the chin stroking perfection of someone like Amon Tobin. Although there were aspects of this (the stage was polished and cleaned by people with white towels before they came on) they also exhibited a sense of humour and enjoyment on stage that I was not expecting. They arrived in the centre of the auditorium by rising up through a fountain of white and silver paper which rained down on the crowd for the next few minutes. Quite an entrance you may think but this marked the beginning of a spectacle which got better and better with each new effect that was introduced.

Muse’s music is eminently suitable to the stadium sound stage. I could even understand the words occasionally. The sound filled the stadium and with each song the crowd (with the exception of the idiots behind me) were brought higher and higher into a state of frenzy.

There were fireworks, blue spotlight satellite dishes which moved around (although in a comedy Spinal Tap moment some of them got stuck in position) and in the encore blue balloons with acrobats underneath them. As we left to the strains of “Plug In Baby” ringing in our ears we were both grinning like mad: it had been a great show.

Here is a video of the acrobats. It is a bit rubbish as it was recorded on my k800 and it probably breaks all sorts of terms of service, but it gives the idea:

One final thing: as we left the Stadium we were remarking to each other how the innards of the building feels just like walking through a shopping centre. After we said this the man in front of us on the escalator turned round and said: “Excuse me, do you know where Burton’s is, mate?”.

Published on 2007/06/17 at 14:55 by Toby, tags , , , , , , ,

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