Muse, The O2, London
Conor Maynard, The Dome, Brighton

The world’s loudest three-piece band give a blinding masterclass in how to fill the enormous spaces of rock’s thunderdomes

In the literal sense, as well as the hyperbolic, Muse are exceptional. Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard are the one band who treble-handedly justify the existence of the gaping, Luxembourg-sized thunderdomes in which, regrettably, rock now happens. They're the one band of whom no one but a madman would ever say they wished they could see them playing the intimate indie dives they toured a dozen years ago.

And they're back to tour The 2nd Law, an album whose unembarrassed pomp at times, makes Queen sound like Frank Sidebottom. It's a work that bends the listener to its will, and the new material can easily stand next to, say, the galloping Flashing Blade heroism of "Knights of Cydonia" and the quiet-to-loud, timid-to-terrifying set piece "Time Is Running Out".

In the past, the gold medal for my favourite Muse song has been a photo finish between two: "Supermassive Black Hole", essentially Prince reinventing "Kiss" on Judas Priest's rig; and "Plug-In Baby", on which a Hendrixed run at Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor slams, head-first, into a turbocharged take-off of Air's "Sexy Boy", which in turn collides with a lung-bursting, vengeful chorus. This year, that pair have a challenger. "Survival", the official song of the London Olympics – ELO's "Mr Blue Sky" rewritten by Nietzsche, basically – may still be Muse's finest hour. Tonight, showing a rare glimpse of overt humour, Bellamy dedicates it to Bear Grylls.

It's a show that involves a hi-tech invertible Mayan temple (well, it is 2012) and more lasers than a George Lucas battle scene. Bellamy's stellar presence is rivalled by his bandmates, with bassist Wolstenholme venturing out on to the promontory for his lead vocal on "Save Me" and drummer Howard sporting a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers body suit.

Watching Muse expand and escalate from lunacy to lunacy is a never-ending joy. The day Muse shrivel, get small and do an acoustic tour will surely be the day the rock world itself shrinks to a white dwarf.

Ever since Cliff Richard was sold as the British Elvis Presley, there's been a long tradition of the UK manufacturing home-grown versions of North American stars. Conor Maynard, on that reckoning, may be the British Justin Bieber. Then again, maybe it makes him the 21st-century Cliff Richard.

Either way, someone's done a great job with Conor Maynard. At the start of 2012, the teenager from Brighton won the MTV Brand New award, beating the immeasurably more discussed Lana Del Rey into second place. He did so on the back of a series of YouTube videos in which he covered other people's songs. They supposedly went exponentially viral, with 50 million views before he'd even released anything, gaining him a rabid legion of fans (we're meant to call them "Mayniacs"), piquing the attention of the likes of Ne-Yo. Yep, someone's worked quite a number on this kid. If you're naive, you might even buy the idea that it's Maynard himself.

The perception that you're a viral success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: everyone wants in. So, debut single "Can't Say No", a reasonable slice of R&B pop reminiscent of early Justin Timberlake, went to No 2, and the album Contrast went one better. Something, though, doesn't add up.

Unlike the upsettingly pretty Bieber, at whose demographic he is being targeted, Maynard is not typical pin-up material. His is more of a geeky, boy-next-door look. He's more Harry Potter than Harry Styles. If Maynard were in Pretty in Pink, he'd be Duckie. In Happy Days, he'd be Potsie. In Gregory's Girl, he'd be Gregory. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but it does make the lust-crazed screams of the Mayniacs, and the pile of confiscated cardboard "We Love You!" signs in the foyer of the Dome, all the more baffling.

So, what else has he got? Awkward and knock-kneed onstage, he's no mover. He can sing, in the sense that there's never a bum note, but there's no tone or character to it. At X Factor he'd be unceremoniously weeded out at Boot Camp.

Maybe it's the songs, then. Maybe not. There's an old Steven Wright joke that goes: "I bought some powdered water, but I didn't know what to add." We've found the answer. Conor Maynard's songs are so wet I need to put my umbrella up indoors. And the sappy acoustic cover of Nicki Minaj's "Starships" fails to fly. If this is the future of the maynstream, things are gonna get arduous.

Next week

Simon follows Public Enemy's Paralympics-inspired revival and presses Alt-J to see what happens

Critic's choice

Swedish electropop heroine Robyn, above, takes a break from touring with Coldplay for a one-off show at London’s Brixton Academy (Thu), with support from Summer Camp. Also, horrorpunk/gothabilly noiseniks The Eighties Matchbox BLine Disaster reunite for Halloween shows at the Concorde 2, Brighton (Tue), and at the Electric Ballroom, London (Wed).

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence