Muse, The Den, Teignmouth

4.00

Seaside Special was never like this: two Mr Punches leer over the stage from posters either side, a circus ringmaster opens proceedings, yet big-top glitter and knockabout humour are way off the agenda.

This thrilling power trio have faced down local opposition to devise a high-profile return for their first hometown gig since 1995, an odd move given how quickly Muse first escaped, then complained about this Devon resort.

Yet even outsiders need to prove themselves, so the band have sought to realise a teen fantasy of playing the sward that runs between the beach and Teignmouth's once elegant townhouses. Yet playing to 20,000 fans over two nights is small beer for a group whose last album, 2007's Black Holes & Revelations, debuted at number one and led to their headlining the refurbished Wembley Stadium.

On their follow up, The Resistance, due out next week, frontman Matt Bellamy gives full vent to his paranoid concerns about global conspiracies and 1984-style state control, backed by Muse's most rococo compositions to date, including full orchestra and even a three-part suite. Nowadays just as likely to appear in tabloid columns as music journals, Muse are aware of their kudos and flex their muscles accordingly. Yet behind the proud swagger as they take the stage, there are glimpses of the awkward kids who never fitted in.

All Bellamy can manage by way of explanation is wry understatement – "It's been a very long time indeed"– while bandmate Dominic Howard looks uncomfortable standing on his drum stool to explain that tonight is a dream come true. Only in performance do Muse emerge as one of our most uninhibited bands. From the Goldfrapp-meets-Glitter Band stomp of their opening gambit, new single "Uprising", the threesome prove their ability to polish rock's most recognisable tropes with a futurist sheen. The album's dark title track is Bellamy's clearest explication to date of a key theme that emerged on their last album – the power of love to defeat the ill-defined "Them" who crop up throughout The Resistance.

While these numbers hit hard with sudden immediacy, "United States Of Eurasia" baffles at first. It is a national anti-anthem that Bellamy begins quietly at the piano, crooning "We know there's no one we can trust", before the "We Are The Champions" refrain kicks in. The terse "Unnatural Selection", meanwhile, sounds too earnest without the band's usual flamboyance, though it is contemporary R&B that proves a step too far for both the band and their fans. Electronic drums pulse and synthesised strings pluck incessantly throughout "Undisclosed Desires", with some slap bass from Chris Wolstenholme, but it lacks the snap of Timbaland's finest and the smattering of polite applause at its close is the outdoor-arena equivalent of tumbleweed.

It is frustrating, for Muse often run seamlessly on dance beats, as they prove tonight with a lubricious "Supermassive Black Hole". Certainly, they benefit from enough formidable craft to make up for the occasional lapse. As master of ceremonies, Bellamy marshals a bewildering array of guitar effects, from the metallic crunch of "Hysteria" to the intensity of "New Born", where he judiciously introduces his falsetto.

Another rare false note is their straight cover of quirky synth instrumental "Popcorn", where they act like a comedic uncle trying too hard to be wacky. Better is their introduction of "the oldest song we know", "Cave", from debut album Showbiz. Bellamy replaces its angsty guitar with jaunty piano, but he fails to disguise the youthful alienation when he warns, "So come in my cave/And I'll burn your heart away".

Then again, it is a refuge that Bellamy left long ago, as is clear when they close with the archly delivered pomp and defiance of "Knights of Cydonia". Against them, resistance is futile.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering