Tag Archives: Chris Martin

Rocks In The Attic #430: Muse – ‘Showbiz’ (1999)

RITA#430I used to be a big fan of Muse. Right from the first album too – essentially ever since I read in the NME about a guitarist with crazy effects pedals in an up and coming band from Devon. Then I heard Sunburn in a club somewhere and I was hooked. Muse to me sound like the natural progression of Radiohead if they had gone in that direction after The Bends rather than the avant garde bullshit they swapped their guitars for.

I was lucky enough to see Muse touring this album; a mid-afternoon set on the Other Stage at Glastonbury in 2000. I would see them touring the second album too, and then I stupidly overlooked their headlining slot at Glastonbury touring the third album (but that’s another story altogether).

The Radiohead comparisons are inevitable, with this debut record being produced by John Leckie, producer of The Bends. Showbiz – the title song – draws the most comparisons with Radiohead, borrowing the ominous slow-burn they perfected across The Bends and OK Computer.  I remember being stood at festivals when Muse first came out and listening to people trying to pigeon-hole them. “They’re just Radiohead in different clothes.” “Nah, they’re Queen for the 21st century.” Whatever. It’s a shame that when bands come out, they just have to be put into a box. People can’t just accept that a band exists on its own merits. But then once a band is accepted, that band is then used as a comparison for newer bands. “Royal Blood? They’re just Muse mixed with the Black Keys, aren’t they?” Ad infinitum.

The great thing about Muse when they started out is that they were a solid package right from the get-go. If you look at that Glastonbury set from 2000, Matt Bellamy has all the vocal histrionics down pat. This wasn’t something he developed over time (like Chris Martin’s woeful hopping on one leg holding his ribcage with one arm). It was also nice to see Bellamy dive into the drum kit, hanging onto bass player Christopher Wolstenholme’s back, at the end of the set too. It was things like this that made me sit up and realise that rock and roll was coming back, after a few years anxiously waiting for Britpop to go through its final death rattles.

Hit:  Unintended

Hidden Gem: Fillip

Rocks In The Attic #11: Coldplay – ‘Parchutes’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #11: Coldplay - ‘Parchutes’ (2000)Everybody seems to love Coldplay these days, or if you’re a muso you hate them. They’re constantly the butt of jokes on American sitcoms, and generally used disparagingly to indicate that somebody has really bad taste in music.

But in 2000, they were the next big thing and I distinctly remember buying the record as soon as it came out. I was already a big fan of Yellow, which was playing everywhere by that point, but I had also just seen them at Glastonbury and I had really liked the rest of the songs they played in their set. Later a friend would recount that we already seen them play – at a local band level – at The Roadhouse in Manchester, second or third on the bill, when they had been starting out. But I don’t remember that at all. I remember seeing our friend’s band – but not Coldplay.

The thing that strikes me most about this album is how it sounds like nothing else they did after. It’s so downbeat and melancholic – which I like. A lot of the songs on this record are what I would describe as beautiful, and that’s not something I usually look for in an album.

I’d still be a fan now if they had continued in that direction – but I think they traded in what melancholia they had for catchier tunes; and even though some of their later stuff is just as downbeat as the songs here, it doesn’t sound as authentic. Shame.

Hit: Yellow

Hidden Gem: We Never Change