My 6th time seeing Muse was in Berlin!

Okay, so the main reason I visited Berlin was because the band Muse were playing in the city on the European leg of their Simulation Theory Tour. And because I have never visited Germany prior to this I thought I would tick two things off the list at once. See Berlin, and see Muse perform on this current tour.

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It was a beautiful evening in Berlin, the rain held off and getting to the Mercedes-Benz Arena was pretty simple. What helped was seeing it on route from the airport, knowing it was in easy reach.

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Knowing the hassle of lining for food during live events I opted to grab a beer and a burger outside. Enough to see me through the evening, support act and all. I watched through the restaurants windows as the queue shortened, and waited for the best time to enter. After all I knew the majority of people would be seated, and that getting to the front isn’t all that difficult with enough dedication.

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Getting in before the support act started meant that only those that truly want to be at the front would be there already. However I am sure many had the same idea as me and would kind of just analyse the situation before making a fairly late surge to the front, after all by staying at the very front from the moment you enter the arena you sacrifice two things. One, precious beer time. There were guys walking around with beer backpacks however they would struggle to reach anyone too far down. And secondly, toilet breaks. From my experience at the front, if you ever wonder why people near the barriers seemingly want to throw a whole pint of beer away unnecessarily as it sprays onto those in the projectiles path, it probably isn’t beer. It’s just easier if you pretend it is.

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My dilemma was that I wanted beers, it helps me relax when surrounded by thousands of sweaty people and zero personal space. So I kept an eye on how crowded it was getting at the front, and how hard it would be to get there later on. I bought a Muse cup from those ghostbuster-looking beer guys, knowing that I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep hold of it all night.

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And as the support act came on, Des Rocs, I contemplated when would be the best time for a toilet break. I overheard that Muse were coming on around 8.45pm, and as the crowd wasn’t too packed to squeeze through I decided to predict when the support would be finishing up and made a break for it.

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Losing a lot of ground… and hoping to make it up again

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I got back when it started to totally fill. And I was in good position. Now I want to let you know that since I have been back I have seen Muse TWICE! Once in Berlin and then London. So I decided to get lots of footage of this gig and just enjoy the London one. Also during the London gig Matt announced that they were filming it for a movie next year, even more reason to put the phone away.

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For those that don’t really know this band, their latest album is called Simulation Theory. The band tend to do a rock album, a more experimental one and then back to a more basic rock album. This is the more experimental one, heavily influenced by 80’s music and styles. The artwork and video’s are evidence of this also. The last album tour was for Drones, the heavier style with the band pretty much wearing all black and having an excuse to play some of their heavier songs not played for a while. This tour is a lot more colourful, catchier for the neutral but still managing to get some of their heaviest stuff in there.

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Muse dancers on stage with the band

The setlist was as follows:

  • Algorithm
  • Pressure
  • Psycho
  • Break It to Me (my favourite song on the new album)
  • Uprising
  • Propaganda
  • Plug In Baby
  • Pray (High Valyrian)
  • The Dark Side
  • Supermassive Black Hole
  • Thought Contagion
  • Interlude
  • Hysteria
  • The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
  • Dig Down
  • Madness
  • Mercy
  • Time Is Running Out
  • Houston Jam
  • Take a Bow
  • Starlight
  • Encore:
  • Algorithm
  • Stockholm Syndrome / Assassin / Reapers / The Handler / New Born
  • Knights of Cydonia

It is almost impossible for me to choose a favourite song, I have a few that are contenders. However the main reason for deciding to see this tour was the ‘Metal Medley’ of Stockholm Syndrome / Assassin / Reapers / The Handler / New Born. Instead of playing all of these songs in their entirety, they played a shortened version of each lasting a total of roughly 15 minutes. Stockholm Syndrome and New Born are two of my favourite songs of all time, so having them shortened was at first a little disappointing, however seeing what they have done with it looked incredible in fan footage from earlier stops on the tour.

I cannot wait to introduce you to Murph…

But firstly, a little footage from Psycho.

This song was made made from a riff they have been playing live since 99′. Pretty incredible that it was only a riff until 2015! It was originally dubbed the ‘0305030’ riff as these are the tabs to play it on guitar.

And as I mentioned, Break it to Me is my favourite from the new album. It’s grungy sound mixed with eastern melodies and a cool sounding solo works really well. Not to mention Matt’s amazing vocals.

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More dancers, dressed in Hazmat suits

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Now below is another new song that I love. It was written by Matt Bellamy for Game of Thrones. It really feels like it was made for the GoT world, a great piece of music. I would highly recommend listening to ‘Pray‘ in it’s entirety.

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And in my opinion, one of greatest basslines ever written. Chris is one hell of a bass player!!

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Madness, a song that really grew on me. I love the passion in his voice during the song and how his glasses bring up the lyrics as he is singing them.

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That voice!!

And below, Mercy seems to be their favourite song for firing confetti cannons into the crowd and creating one of the biggest spectacles of the show. Matt decided to sing on his knees with a German flag over his head.

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Take a Bow. I remember listening to this song for the first time in 2006 like it was yesterday. I had my chunky white mp3 player and a newly downloaded Muse song from the album which really did get experimental. I remember hearing this opening song and the rest of the album and thinking ‘this is Muse?!’ but in the best way possible. You would probably have to listen to the whole track to hear how unique it is. No chorus, no verse, but a gradual build up into rock, electronic epicness. ‘Death, you bring death’ as you can hear is aimed towards politicians about a certain war.

And another huge crowd pleaser.

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This stage set up was probably one of my favourites of all the times I have seen them live. Lots of action, lots of colour from Matt’s special glasses to his illuminated jacket to the vampires spreading contagious thoughts. Thought Contagion is a song that is influenced by American politics and media right now (he spends a lot of time in the USA with his family as his wife is American and he has a place in LA) seeing how thoughts can be spread like a virus and the problems that can bring.

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Can you spot the monster in the darkness?
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There’s always time for video games..

And now, to the part I had been waiting for. The start of the metal medley that I watched in earlier gigs and thought ‘holy sh*t, I need to see this live’.

The opening riff to Stockholm Syndrome and the slow emergence of Murph the Robot truly gave me goosebumps and was a damn impressive sight.

What a moment! Towering above the band, only matched by their incredible sound. Muse truly know how to put on a show and this is evidence as to why they are considered one of the greatest live bands of all time.

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Dom killing it on the drums during Assassin, with Murph truly coming to life.

The detail used in his construction is amazing. From the screws as eyes to the details on his back (seen in footage from those in seats slightly behind him) means a lot of credit has to go to the company that created him for the show.

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The solo during New Born, the very first song I heard from them back in 2003. I was at a friends house playing Risk the board game and this came on Kerrang Radio. I am still not bored of it to this day and would love to know the actual number of times I have listened to it since then.

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Matt being that teasing older sibling to poor Murph…

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Fun fact: Matt Bellamy made it into the Guinness World Records for the most guitars smashed on a single tour. In 2004 he smashed a total of 140.

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And there goes another one..

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And with that, another gig. My 6th, and I would be surprised if I didn’t make it to at least ten in the next few years. Heck it would be in the hundreds by now if I was financially capable, but seeing how the tours have evolved and how the band has progressed in general has been amazing. I am luckier than some to see the amount of live gigs that I have, and they are always a magical experience, whoever you go to see.

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I hope you enjoyed the post from the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Did you have a favourite shot or even song that you like by them?  Let me know as I am always delighted to meet fellow Musers!

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But even in general, it is just nice to be able to share what and who I love with you all, and learning about what you love in return. We all have inspirations and these guys are mine. Thank you for reading, and I will see you all from London!

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Berlin Part Three: Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall

Checkpoint Charlie is the closest tourist spot to where I was staying. It is largely a reconstruction of the east/west border crossing in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie (or Checkpoint C) was the name used by the Western Allies at this particular site between 1947-91. It was also the location for the stand-off between Soviet and US tanks in 1961, the dispute over a US diplomat crossing the border. It ended peacefully almost a week later after both armies agreed to slowly move their tanks back.

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This banner was up at Checkpoint Charlie when I visited, asking Putin to abandon his geopolitical ambitions.

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As you can see above, a replica of the guardhouse sits before a picture of a soldier. A sign to the right of it informs you that ‘You are leaving the American sector’.

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After the Berlin Wall was taken down, some sections of wall remained standing. These sections are a reminder of what life would have been like with the wall dividing the country, and many parts of the wall are decorated with paintings, messages, padlocks and at this section, chewing gum.

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Some information about the nearby Checkpoint Charlie.

What I didn’t know which I found pretty fascinating was that there is a line that runs through the city to show where the Berlin Wall once stood. You can see the brickwork below leaving the actual wall and heading into the distance.

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Larger sections of wall were found close to the German finance building talked about in Part One. From here I learned that the wall wasn’t just one wall but two, separated by a ‘death strip’ filled with trenches, barbed wire fencing, landmines and armed guards. Sand was used in the strip to detect footprints that would lead to those looking to cross the border illegally. This is why despite the wall being pretty small, the chances of crossing it were very low and incredibly dangerous.

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The wall was incredibly long, over 140km in length.

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What it looked like between the walls.
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Pictures from both sides of the Brandenburg Gate. What is now Pariser Platz (picture on the right) was a no-go area at the time. 

The left hand picture above is the location of President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech, declaring “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”

The brick trail showing where the Berlin Wall once stood can be seen here.

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Before and after restorations of the Brandenburg Gate following bombings.

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This is the section of wall that I talked about in Part One, full of artwork and the longest stretch of wall I had found. I am glad I found this before I left Berlin, I love how such an oppressive structure can be used to display messages of love, as well as a reminder for us to not repeat history.

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This is all from my Berlin trip, it was only a few days and one of them involved a gig, so time was limited. But I would certainly visit again to see what I have missed, and would love to see more of Germany.

Where else would people recommend I visit in this great country? Let me know, and thank you for reading.

Dankeschön!

 

Part One: Wandering around Berlin

Part Two: A powerful memorial, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building


 

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Berlin, I am coming for you September 10th!

So, I have made my first actual plan after my Working Holiday Visa expires in September. I will only be in the UK for a short while before catching a flight to Berlin to see Muse live at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. This will be the 6th time I’ve see them perform and I am just as excited as ever.

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I have seen fan footage of the gigs whilst they are in the States and it looks incredible. They always seem to put on an amazing show with new surprises each and every time. For this reason getting a ticket was a no brainer for me. I don’t want to regret not seeing this tour at all.

I have posted before about my obsession with them. You can read about my last Muse gigs here, they span from 2006- 2017, and soon to be 2019. 13 years of Muse gigs!!! Time can be a very scary thing. And I would have went to a hell of a lot more if I could, they are a band I cannot get bored of and I am really grateful for them being such an inspiration in my life.

If any readers from Germany are reading this, hello to you! Any advice as to what to do whilst I am there would be greatly appreciated. I have to limit myself to Berlin though as I am unsure how long I will be there, probably a weekend. I cannot wait though as it is a country and city I have wanted to visit for a long time, hence why I chose this destination on the European tour.

Have you ever been to Berlin? What were your thoughts? I would love to hear from anyone about your experience and just posting about it is getting me hyped up.

I’m ready to rock!!

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Sam