The concert film, due on CD/DVD/Blu-Ray on December 3rd, is a 96 minute sensory overload captured this past July in front of over 60,000 rabid Italian fans. Additionally, it was shot in 4k, the new better-than-HD format that uses 8.8 million pixels to form an image and mixed in full surround sound. Bonus performances include songs recorded in the U.S. not included in the Rome show (as they chose not to offer the full concert), and a tour documentary.
Veteran music video director Matt Askem (who worked with Muse on their previous Hullaboo and HAARP releases, as well as with Take That, A-ha, and Fatboy Slim) uses a dazzling blend of swooping spider cameras, extended closeups, and clear footage of the conceptual images on the digital screens, to form a kaleidoscopic palette of colors and throbbing sound.
Touring for their latest album, The 2nd Law (WB), the band leans heavily on that material, though earlier classics like ‘Plug in Baby’, ‘Knights of Cydonia’ and their cover of ’Feeling Good’ appear somewhat early in the set. Conceptual footage sometimes turns black and white as actors interpret the songs on stage for a few number; throwing money to the crowd and collapsing in front of a gas pump, which implies additional meanings to those songs.
‘Madness’ starts with singer Matt Bellamy mugging the camera (a la Bono) in futuristic sunglasses while bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dom Howard remain unfettered in keeping the beat (and their sanity) amongst everything around them.
Often watching, there’s a somewhat mind-boggling realization that all of this sound comes out of three people (plus the touring Morgan Nicholls on keys/percussion) and the cinematography invites you to become immersed it all. Many in the audience at the Minneapolis screening had become sucked into this ‘supermassive black hole’- singing along to choruses, raising hands on cue, and applauding after every song, as if they were present in Italy at Stadio Olimpico.
The Landmark Theater where we screened the film was unfortunately not quite up to the native technology of the 4k film, though it still looked and sounded good in its full digital glory. In a way, this was better than being at the actual show: no beer-spilling drunks behind you, camera phones blocking your view, or annoying people talking over the songs.
Muse is bombastic and often over-the-top ...but so is rock n' roll – my advice is to get the Blu-Ray, find a neighbor that has a large projection screen, and shake the walls with it.