Amplifier, Old Blue Last

Amplifier, Old Blue Last, London, 28/03/15.

It’s rare you get to see your favourite band. It’s even rarer you get to see your two favourite bands within a week of each other. But it’s almost unimaginable you get to see you two favourite bands within a week of each other – twice.

Back in November 2006, I saw Muse at Manchester MEN. A week later, I saw Amplifier at the Joiners in Southampton. This week, I saw Muse at the Brighton Dome. And just last night, I saw Amplifier at the Old Blue Last in London.

A lot has changed since those first two gigs, a little matter of leaving home, moving to Cardiff, completing five years of university, relocating to Guildford to start my first ‘proper’ job. To cut a long story short, I guess I ‘grew up’ in that time. Real life started.

Happily, these two bands have been a largely consistent soundtrack during those intervening years. And Amplifier were on astonishing form last night. After a barrage of choice cuts from their latest LP, Mystoria, as well as the very first live airing of pre-album download ‘Horse’, we were treated to a real trip down memory lane, with the band delving deep into their back catalogue and digging out some of their heaviest numbers – Motorhead, Airborne, Panzer, The Consultancy and Half Life from their self-titled debut album, the majestic Strange Seas Of Thought from Insider, plus The Wave and Interstellar from The Octopus.

Despite having seen the band a number of times before, this (I think) was the first time I’ve seen them¬†in their latest iteration following the departure of bassist and founder member Neil Mahony. Thankfully, his replacement – the laconic ‘Magnum’ – absolutely monstered both Neil’s distinctive bass hooks as well as his own, while ex-Oceansize guitarist and backing vocalist Steve Durose adds an extra layer of depth to the band’s already expansive sound. Oh, and need I even state the obvious, but drummer Matt Brobin absolutely pummels his drum kit while singer and lead guitarist Sel Balamir defty negotiates his obscenely large pedalboard without missing so much as a note.

It was raucous. It was deafening. It was unexpected. It was perfect.

Muse, Brighton Dome

Muse, Brighton Dome, 23/03/15. Support from Marmozets.

I don’t usually write a lot about all the gigs I go to if I’m not actually reviewing them, but I’ll make an exception in this case.

This was my tenth Muse gig. Yes, I know. I first saw them back in 2004, a couple of years after I got into them in a big way. I’ve seen them at the Royal Albert Hall, at the Eden Project, at Wembley Stadium, at Reading Festival, in Teignmouth, and so on, but never in such a small venue as I did on Monday night. And it was magnificent in every respect.

Long have Muse had their heads in the clouds (or up their arses, each to their own) so when they announced their stripped back seventh album Drones and incendiary lead release Psycho, it seemed only right for them to go back to the roots and revisit a few of the dinkier venues where they made their name as the best live band around. Last night felt very much like a celebration of that journey.