Muse is a band that has long had their music overshadowed by comparisons to the giants that are Radiohead, U2, and Queen. Rather than worry about dispelling said comparisons, Muse have taken the allegations of being a rip-off and lacking originality in stride and maintained its artistic credibility while continuing to deliver what many, even the most crass of critics, consider to be the finest rock music this side of, yes, Radiohead.
H.A.A.R.P. is the bands second live offering and the follow-up effort to the bands extremely successful Black Holes and Revelations. The album is comprised of two discs, one featuring only audio, the other in video form. Like the many live audio recordings that have preceded this offering, the retail value of such a recording is for the most part non-existent. Unless you a) were at the actual show, b) are diehard collector fanboy, or c) have boatloads of money to purchase everything, purchasing live albums really isnt necessary. I dont really fall into any of those when it comes to Muse... so lets refer to the DVD portion of this recording (which for those keeping score features all the songs found on the CD, but with more songs and video!).
The DVD disc of H.A.A.R.P. features the entire ninety-minute performance of Muse at the sold out Wembley Stadium. Following a brief introduction frontman/guitarist/keyboardist Mathew Bellamy and company launch into Knights of Cydonia, which works as an excellent opener, pumping the crowd into frenzy. Muse follow it up with Hysteria from Absolution. as well as choice cuts from Black Holes and Revelations. All the while the trio execute their songs in perfect form, Bellamys falsettos and all. But in an effort to liven things up and keep their fans on their toes, the band have made small changes to the music, adding little nuances here and there as well as adding to the intensity of the heavier more rocking moments. Perhaps its just the quality of the recording, but damn, several of the songs really tear it up. For the set lists, Muse mostly sticks to the bands latest two releases, but also finds time to mix in a few early cuts. Included amongst the new hits are fan favorites Feeling Good, New Born, and Plug in a Baby from Origin of Symmetry as well as Unintended from their debut offering, Showbiz.
Live music albums are really hit or miss, thankfully Muses latest offering is among the better that Ive been exposed to. The inclusion of the DVD with the entire set definitely ups the worth of this release. In fact, I would say that without the DVD this album would be pretty much pointless. Why listen to the live version when you have well-produced originals to spin? If youre a Muse fan you definitely should pick this up. If youre just a casual fan, this might turn you into a diehard.
7.5 / 10
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