Muse play bombastic Glastonbury set

Muse have closed the first night of Glastonbury with a blazing, bombastic set.

They wisely mixed classics like Plug In Baby and Supermassive Black Hole with new material, displaying the confident assurance of a band headlining the festival for the third time.

A crowd of almost 75,000 watched the show, on a day that also saw ZZ Top and Jess Glynne play the Pyramid Stage.

Singer Matt Bellamy said little, other than: “Thank you, merci, danke schoen.”

But Uprising, from 2009’s Resistance album, and Starlight, from 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations, provided ample opportuny for a singalong amid the Sturm und Drang of their more uncompromising rock excursions.

Muse opened their set with Psycho, a hard driving anti-war song from their current album, Drones – a concept record about modern warfare, and soldiers “who kill by remote control”.

Although the band’s recent shows have featured actual drones flying over the audience, they were refused permission to use them at Glastonbury.

The group have often been compared to Queen, thanks to their multi-layered vocals and cod-operatic tendencies. But like Queen, everything that makes Muse faintly ridiculous on record works to their benefit in front of such a vast audience.

From start to end (the belting crescendo of their signature send-off Knights of Cydonia) the skyscraping scale of their songs kept the crowd entertained and on their feet – unless they were simply stuck in Glastonbury’s increasingly viscous mud.

Muse are now the first band to headline the Pyramid Stage on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

Coldplay will match the achievement on Sunday – their fourth time at the top of the bill – while Adele notches up her first headline slot on Saturday.

Protest songs

Earlier in the day, many of the acts addressed the Leave vote from Thursday’s referendum.

Damon Albarn told the audience “democracy has failed us”, while bands including James and Bastille voiced dissatisfaction with the result.

Preceding Muse on the Pyramid Stage were Oxford band Foals, whose frontman Yannis Philippakis has also been vocal about his positive experiences in Britain as the son of Greek / Ukrainian immigrants.

“My family have benefitted from an inclusive Britain which gave me health, education and a sense of belonging, despite the length of my name,” he tweeted earlier this month.

However, he kept political messages out of the band’s thrillingly visceral set, simply declaring: “Love each other. That’s all we’re good at.”

Pop star Jess Glynne brought a party disco vibe to the Pyramid Stage, and rock veterans ZZ Top played a set full of crowd pleasers, including Legs, Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady.

Grime took centre stage at the festival’s Sonic Stage, whose line-up read like a who’s who of UK hip-hop – Stormzy, Section Boyz and Kano all played, while Skepta made a guest appearance during Novelist’s set.

BBC Sound of 2016 winner Jack Garratt packed out the John Peel tent, while Savages and Ronnie Spector drew large crowds to the Park Stage.

Meanwhile, dance duo Disclosure are currently competing with Muse for the “band with most lights” award.

The band are certainly the louder act of the two, with a pounding bass that pummels the chest.

Perched on elevated, spaceship-like platforms, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence were joined by a number of guest vocalists during their set, including Kwabs on Willing & Able, and Aluna Francis on White Noise.

Howard also sang the band’s current single, Boss, shifting the pitch of his voice down to a deep baritone with an effects unit.

“It’s just me getting a glimpse into what it would be like to be Barry White,” he told the BBC.

He added that the set was “the pinnacle” of their career before.

“There’s something rewarding about playing at a festival like Glastonbury, where half the crowd are just passing by and stopping to see what you’re all about,” he explained.

“You’ve got to earn their respect and keep them there. There’s an element of a challenge to that, as opposed to when people have come specifically to see you.”

Bands who will face the challenge on Saturday include Madness, Wolf Alice, New Order and Art Garfunkel, while the night will end with an orchestral tribute to the late David Bowie.

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