Suzan / Retna
Mark Beaumont
June 27, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Stadium gigs. Hideous experiences, right?

Usually played by culturally irrelevant dinosaurs, they’re populated by sheep-like Neanderthals that cram into the first front-of-stage mile, pissing in each other’s pockets. Your seat, having been booked 25 minutes after they went on sale, is 15km away from the band in an entirely different area code. And the bar is so expensive it only accepts fresh internal organs in return for beer and/or burgers made from the purest botulism.

Dreadful gigs — unless, that is, your country’s best indie-rock band has just made the leap to stadiums, in which case it’s the party of your life. And so it was when Muse recently played the first of two sold-out shows at the newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium (and yes, George Michael beat them to the first gig, but the pervy old pop muppet had as much trouble filling his night as he generally has driving home in a sober and controlled manner).

Muse have always been the one indie-rock band to play every gig of their lives like a stadium show, and so having finally broken into the Mammoth League, no stop was left unpulled. Fifty-foot-laser-shooting satellite dishes? Oh yes. Enormous videos of lap-dancing FemBots? You betcha. Silver ballerinas doing acrobatics suspended from gigantic white balloons above the crowd? Still not entirely sure we didn’t hallucinate them, actually.

An incredible show with pictures to prove it, and it certainly made one feel sorry for the slightly soggy hordes down at the O2 Wireless Festival in Hyde Park. For four days the likes of the White Stripes, Kaiser Chiefs, Editors, Faithless, Klaxons, CSS, and Daft Punk (in a massive glowing pyramid that, rumour has it, just closes up, takes off and flies them to the next festival when their set is over) helped lift the spirits of a crowd undergoing trial by drizzle. The only let up from the squelchiness was our new favourite band of-the-week, Make Model, doing their ethereal Kasabian thing. It was all presumably part of God’s conditioning programme for us in preparation for this past weekend’s torrential Glastonbury, which had campsites ringing to the strains of ”By the Rivers of Avalon” all weekend…

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