Muse - Photo by Rachael BarrettBirds Of Tokyo

Perth Arena
Saturday, November 30. 2013

The past few days have seen Perth exposed to some ridiculously tempestuous weather. The ever-present threat of rain has loomed over our music scene like a biblical plague, driving away our punters and despoiling our equipment. It might therefore seem a surprise then that the huddled masses would seek to brave the mild spring squall to see their favourite rock bands in a grossly misshapen arena complex. However, with the promise of international rock stars playing at the Perth Arena hanging on the tastebuds like original sin, that’s just what many local Perthians did.

Birds Of Tokyo were first up, fresh from a Fremantle gig the night before, charging in with Adam Spark’s sludgy, bass-heavy guitar riffs and the terminally excitable Ian Kenny prancing around, from the first few bars of Silhouettic the band produced an inhuman vigour. Kenny’s vociferous vocals and natural showmanship immediately engaged the still fledgling crowd and held their attention throughout the high-paced first segment of the set. With most of the band holding a commanding presence, synth player, Glenn Sarangapany was woefully undermixed, leading to some underwhelming synth sections. Finishing up with the outrageously popular Lanterns, to a sea of swaying mobile phones, the band found themselves at the end of a strong, though reserved gig. With a strong focus on playing songs true to the albums, the band found itself on the good side of the plebs but divorced from any originality or uniqueness for the gig.

In juxtaposition to Birds Of Tokyo’s unassuming production level, Muse blasted on stage with one of the biggest audio-visual experiences Perth has yet seen. Beneath a pyramid of LCD screens the band struck away at the first chunky, distorted riffs of Supremacy, much to the fevered appreciation of the waves of fans now crowding around the front of stage. The set was a good mixture of old and new, with each album in Muse’s back catalogue well-represented. The funky bass licks and guitar arpeggios of Panic Station added colour and contrast against the Muse paradigm of grandiose, apocalyptic orchestration and wailing falsetto vocals, while improvised sections, such as the dissonant, if somewhat anticlimactic piano solo of Sunburn, kept audience members on their toes.

New numbers went down well, and were surprisingly engaging, considering the weakness of Muse’s more recent releases, while the latter half of the set, predominated by the band’s earlier work, saw the crowd reach fever pitch. The spectacle of a room full of moshing fans during Time Is Running Out and the crowd sing-along for Plug In Baby were end-of-show highlights, though interspersed with some transitional problems in sections, and fans were given a treat when the boy-like figure of Matt Bellamy walked back onstage for a three-song encore of Hyper Music, Starlight and Survival, with the catchy and self-assured rendition Starlight being an absolute show stopper.

Photo by Rachael Barrett