Saturday 3rd March 2018.
Country wide we were still under yellow weather warnings as “The Beast from the East” and Storm Emma turned our towns and cities into white deserts. Snow drifts to rival sand dunes stopped workers, shoppers and school kids from going about their day to day duties. Half days and food frenzy shopping took place as people feared being secluded from the outside world in apocalyptic conditions.
There was one place in Worcester though, where a united love of live music became stronger than the worry of whether, once you’d gotten there, would you be able to get home as it felt like glaciers would be forming, not melting, in the dead of night.
That place was The Marrs Bar.
Much loved Muse tribute band “Mused” were back, this time with support by a new local band, Nexus. The venue was the fullest I’ve seen it for a while, showing that a bit of bad weather won’t stop a loyal following of fans. Friends and family of Nexus helped make up the weather braving audience, but Mused have a well deserved following of their own, as the lads themselves are fairly local, hailing from around the West Midlands.
Nexus opened the night. The band is made up of singer Maddie, Tom on drums, James on guitar and Dave on bass. All members have emerged from the Worcester School of Rock and Performance, which gives young musicians of any ability the chance to learn new skills and use existing ones. Although all still young, and a recently established band line up, its fair to say, as soon as the band took to the stage, despite the obvious and understandable signs of nerves, they looked professional and more polished than you’d expect from their ages. Maddie was the quintessential Rock Chick, dressed in black,with red feather earring dangling from her left ear. Opening track “Had Enough” by Lower than Atlantis instantly made me notice that Maddies voice had the ability to make any cover they were going to throw at us into a version they could call their own. When the strains of Nirvanas “Smells like teen spirit” started, I wasn’t worried that a personal favourite of mine wouldn’t be delivered well. Maddie appeared lost in the music as she belted the song out, and her voice effortlessly switched from low notes to high as required by the song, and the intensity in her voice was matching the crescendos of the talented musicians alongside her. I was impressed.
In a tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan, “Zombie” by The Cranberries was probably my favourite in the set, as it showcased the full range of Maddie’s vocals, hitting all the melodic high notes required. After “My House” by PVRIS, where Maddie states she finds it harder to do female vocal songs (Maddie, you are note perfect whatever you sing), we were treated to an untitled original song by the band. After a mellow start, with chilled out vibes, it leads into a frantic upbeat tune which sat perfectly amongst their choice of covers, leaving me with a sense of excitement about the future of this band. Royal Bloods “Little Monster”, Nickelbacks “How you Remind me”, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath followed, Maddie vocally keeping up and growing in confidence as the set went on. The rockier songs showing off the skills of the whole band with edgy guitar rifts and drums to raise the roof. The bands enthusiasm and love of music was clear to see, and their performance on the night was exceptional.
Final song of the set, fittingly, was “Hysteria” by Muse, which again didn’t disappoint me, or the eager Mused fans. The applause spoke for itself.
It wasn’t long before Mused hit the stage. Fresh from watching the real Muse live stream a gig from Paris on social media on 24th February, I was excited to see Mused singer Carl emulate Matt Bellamys choice of outfit from that set, and the first thing I noted down in my trusty gig review notebook was “Red Trousers!”. As Drill Sergeant rang out across the venue, the audience dutifully replied “Aye, Sir” as the intro to Psycho played and we were all caught up in the moment. My favourite ever song to play when needing to let off steam, the Mused boys were spot on with choosing this as their opener. Snow? What snow? Muse only appeared on my musical radar in 2015, I was unfashionably late to the party but I’ve made up for lost time. The album that introduced me to them was “Drones”, so I admit to having a soft spot for any song from that, and I was happy to hear “Reapers” played next.
It didn’t take much to get the crowd clapping out the beat to “Starlight”, a rare softer side of Muse which was note perfect by singer and band as a whole. Carl has a huge task on his hands to even get close to the range of Matt Bellamy, big shoes to fill. He not only fills those shoes, but stomps and jumps around the stage in them in his portrayal of the man himself. A back catalogue of songs followed, Supermassive Black Hole more well known by non Muse fans,into Muscle Museum, Hysteria, Hyper Music and The Handler. “New Born” seemed a crowd favourite with rhythmic clapping and chanting from a group of lads front and centre in front of the band. Mused are born performers, intent on delivering impeccable renditions of a live Muse performance, rather than just an accurate portrayal of a studio recorded album, from the ad lib interactions with each other on stage, to the musical rifts from one song into another.
Bliss followed , and then we had “Madness”, which, since starting from Drones and working backwards, I’ve discovered is a bit of a Marmite song for the die hard Muse fans. I’m definitely on the love it team, and Mused embrace the song and deliver it with a passion that makes it hard for anyone listening not to admit they, too, love it a bit.
By this point, my photographer friend L had climbed up onto the side of the stage to capture some of the action. Whereas I’m listening, watching, looking around at the vibe of the audience, L focuses purely on the band,and through the lens, captures the essence of the performers themselves. She can tell if a band is into a song, caught up in the moment and focused in the zone, and she expertly times the press of her camera buttons to freeze time and forever capture a moment. She has photographed Mused on several occasions. And she absolutely loves doing it! The energy buzzes from the stage and down the lens. From certain angles Carl LOOKS like Matt, which only adds to the whole “effect” of the performance.
“Feeling Good” is an iconic cover by the Muse guys, and Mused do the song justice, right down to the megaphone section, a song that even non Muse fans can get behind and join in with, a classic, with a wicked twist. On a visual note, the red sparkly Cort guitar did not go unnoticed. Little details that add towards the stage persona.
Resistance, Time is running out and Mercy kept the energy on stage and off at maximum. “Plug in Baby” always seems to get the crowd going and it was clear to see for a few couples this was “their song” and the opening screechy rifts sent them into a frenzy. Knights of Cydonia ended the set, an anthem among Muse fans and a song that Carl, Stu and Chris clearly love to perform. Highly instrumental, it really does show the skills and accuracy all three lads possess. No Muse song is easy to perform. Notes are fast and furious on the guitars, beats on the drum are critical to the song, not just an additional back ground beat as with some bands, but an essential part of the track, and vocally Matt is not easy to match. Clear to see, the band have fun. On stage with each other, and through crowd interaction, and that’s another reason to fall in love with these guys.
Chants of “more” echoed round the venue as the band made to go off stage. We knew they’d be back. Unsustainable plays as the band gear up for an encore. “Supremacy” is a song Mused have apparently never played at Worcester before, but the song went down a storm. “Uprising” is a well known Muse song, one of a handful I’d known before falling in love with them, and has become a personal triumphant song for me, so, although already hoarse and tired from singing and dancing all night, I kept going to adamantly claim that I would not be forced, degraded or controlled and that I would, indeed, be victorious. Music speaks to a lot of people, and to find an act that performs songs that have grown to mean so much to me at such a high standard is really the closest thing I’ll probably get to seeing the real band play. The dedication and commitment to the show is noticeable, but above all, the fun and engery they exude on stage is intoxicating.
The show was closed with “Stockholm Syndrome”, ending most definitely with a bang and not a whimper. From the outset, the setlist was a crowd pleaser, and if the set had continued for another hour I have no doubt in my mind that the Mused lads would not of strayed or wavered from brilliance. My feet however, probably couldn’t of danced anymore.
As the saying goes, all good things must, unfortunately, come to an end (but not before I had a fan girl moment of my own)
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