On Sunday, me and some friends went to Reading Festival (mostly to see Muse). Most of us opted not to go for the whole weekend, as most of the line-up didn’t really appeal to us.
I’ve never been to Reading, and I was surprised that the festival is so close to the main town; I’d assumed it would be more out of the way, like most festival sites. The town was heaving with people splattered with mud!
We arrived part way through a set by Frank Turner. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he was very good and I’m planning to download his album later. We also saw The View (enjoyed Same Jeans, otherwise was all a bit samey), Enter Shakari (awful, and very rough crowd), Friendly Fires (ok), Interpol (boring) and Elbow.
Elbow were really impressive. I’ve never seen them live before, but I quite like their music. It didn’t really matter that I didn’t know many of the songs; as their stage presence was so good and it was quite pleasant to just sway along. Guy Garvey was a lot of fun, and all in all I was very pleased I’d seen them.
But the main reason we were there really was Muse.
It’s ten years since Origin of Symmetry (Muse’s second album) was released, so for Reading and Leeds they played the album in it’s entirety. Word is, the album will now be retired from live performance, although I assume Plug In Baby will continue to be a setlist fixture; I’d be shocked if they decide to drop it.
The set was designed to match Origin’s album cover, with big white forks. The video screen was very impressive, with fantastic light displays and video to match the songs. There was a lot of links back to old imagery, such as the reappearance of the little aliens from the Origin era, which was nice to see.
It was amazing to hear Origin in full. Some of the songs haven’t been played since Origin was toured, and a lot of the tracks are very rare to hear live, so that was a real privilege.
We decided to hang back a bit, as festival crowds are usually rougher than a standard Muse gig. I’m glad we did, as I heard afterwards that the pit was awful, with people having to be pulled over the barrier by security almost constantly in order to escape. We could see the stage pretty well and the screens, so we had a good enough view and still had room to breathe.
The set was absolutely incredible and the boys were on top form and clearly having a blast. It was the 9th time I’ve seen them and it honestly never gets old. I am always blown away, and always love every second. I can’t wait to see them again.
I hear the video effects didn’t look great on TV, although I haven’t a chance to see it myself yet, but I can understand how such big lasers and flicking videos look odd on television and probably a bit disorienting!
One thing that is disappointing is how little of the set was actually shown on BBC3 after being advertised in a way that made it sound as if the whole set would be broadcast. Very little of Origin was shown, which I know has made a lot of Musers very angry. I do think it’s a shame, as potentially a lot of those songs will never be played live again. However, there is suggestion that the songs were not shown because there’ll be a DVD. There were certainly a lot of cameras for a set that wouldn’t be fully broadcast, so here’s hoping.
On Monday, we went over to the Barnett Hive to watch some Muse football.
Chris Wolstenholme, their bass player, has been organising football games after gigs for a while. He and some of Muse’s regular crew play, and he invites fans down via Twitter to either play too or go and watch. This is the second Muse football I’ve been to, after going down the Hive for the first footy event after their gigs at Wembley.
It’s amazing to see Chris off stage, and I think it’s so great that he organises this for the fans. It’s a fantastic way for us to interact with him and a lot of fun. Unfortunately this time there were just too many people for him to do much signing or picture taking afterwards which was a bit disappointing after standing in the cold for two hours! I have met him before, so I didn’t mind too much and just enjoyed seeing him.
Chris is the loveliest guy and I was very pleased by how good he looked yesterday. During the recording of The Resistance, Chris went into rehab to be treated for alcoholism, so it really is wonderful to see him looking so happy and healthy these days.
If you want to hear from Chris about Reading, Musers and playing Origin, there’s a good video on NME's site.