Muse – live at Route du Rock 2001 – Recorded at St. Malo, France – August 11, 2001 – RFI –
Muse in concert at the 2001 Route du Rock festival in St. Malo France and recorded (as well as filmed) by Radio France International, August 11, 2001.
Muse formed in 1994. The members played in separate school bands during their time at Teignmouth Community College in the early 1990s. Guitarist Matt Bellamy successfully auditioned for drummer Dominic Howard’s band, Carnage Mayhem, becoming its singer and songwriter. They renamed the band Gothic Plague. They asked Chris Wolstenholme – at that time the drummer for Fixed Penalty – to join as bassist; he agreed and took up bass lessons. The band was renamed Rocket Baby Dolls and adopted a goth-glam image. Around this time, they received a £150 grant from the Prince’s Trust for equipment.
In 1994, Rocket Baby Dolls won a local battle of the bands, smashing their equipment in the process. Bellamy said, “It was supposed to be a protest, a statement, so, when we actually won, it was a real shock, a massive shock. After that, we started taking ourselves seriously.” The band quit their jobs, changed their name to Muse, and moved away from Teignmouth. The band liked that the new name was short and thought that it looked good on a poster. According to journalist Mark Beaumont, the band wanted the name to reflect “the sense Matt had that he had somehow ‘summoned up’ this band, the way mediums could summon up inspirational spirits at times of emotional need”.
Many Muse songs are recognizable by vocalist Matt Bellamy’s use of vibrato, falsetto, and melismatic phrasing, influenced by Jeff Buckley. As a pianist, Bellamy often uses arpeggios. Bellamy’s compositions often suggest or quote late classical and romantic era composers such as Sergei Rachmaninov (in “Space Dementia” and “Butterflies and Hurricanes”), Camille Saint-Saëns (in “I Belong to You (+Mon Cœur S’ouvre a ta Voix)”) and Frédéric Chopin (in “United States of Eurasia”). As a guitarist, Bellamy often uses arpeggiator and pitch-shift effects to create a more “electronic” sound, citing Jimi Hendrix and Tom Morello as influences. His guitar playing is also influenced by Latin and Spanish guitar music; Bellamy said: “I just think that music is really passionate…It has so much feel and flair to it. I’ve spent important times of my life in Spain and Greece, and various deep things happened there – falling in love, stuff like that. So maybe that rubbed off somewhere.”
Wolstenholme’s basslines are a motif of many Muse songs; the band combines bass guitar with effects and synthesisers to create overdriven fuzz bass tones. Bellamy and Wolstenholme use touch-screen controllers, often built into their instruments, to control synthesisers and effects including Kaoss Pads and Digitech Whammy pedals.
Most earlier Muse songs lyrically dealt with introspective themes, including relationships, social alienation, and difficulties they had encountered while trying to establish themselves in their hometown. However, with the band’s progress, their song concepts have become more ambitious, addressing issues such as the fear of the evolution of technology in their Origin of Symmetry (2001) album. They deal mainly with the apocalypse in Absolution (2003) and with catastrophic war in Black Holes and Revelations (2006). The Resistance (2009) focused on themes of government oppression, uprising, love, and panspermia. The album itself was mainly inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Their sixth studio album, The 2nd Law (2012) relates to economics, thermodynamics, and apocalyptic themes. Their 2015 album Drones, is a concept album that uses autonomous killing drones as a metaphor for brainwashing and loss of empathy.
For a reminder of their 2001 period, here is their performance from Route du Rock 2001 to crank up past the threshold of pain and enjoy.
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