I took my daughter and some friends to see Muse at the Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow last week. I didn’t know much about the band myself, but I essentially had to go as my daughter is too young to go by herself, but too old for me to say “you can’t go and see your most favourite band ever on a school night!”.

It was, actually, a very impressive show and I’ve become something of a fan. I did decide, however, that discretion was the better part of valour, and stood in the back tapping my feet with the older crowd, while the youngsters Moshed (?) in the front. I was slightly worried that I might see one of them passed over the heads to the front after being crushed by someone twice their weight, but it all went fine and they even managed to get some of the water being passed out by the security people at the front.

Since I’m an astronomer, I thought I would at least post one a their relevant songs. I can also recommend Supermassive Black Hole. I gather Richard Betts is also something a fan, but I assume he – unlike me – was up for some Moshing in Exeter last night.

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73 Responses to Muse

  1. Rachel M says:

    I hope my kids don’t drag me along to a concert like that. Not my kind of music at all. I’m hoping they’ll prefer something more like this –

    Probably wishful thinking though 🙂

  2. Rachel,
    If they’re anything like my kids, you won’t have a choice 🙂

  3. Rachel M says:

    Well, they like this type of music now but probably peer pressure will take over at some point. I’m planning to drag them out to the jazz festival today though. Hopefully that will help.

  4. Yes I was there in the thick of it at their Exeter Uni show 🙂 Great to see a band who normally play stadiums at a smaller, local gig. And they are a Devon band, so that meant the crowd were even more excited!

    Although Muse aren’t Heavy Metal, you might be interested in this paper studying the phenomenon of moshpits! Collective Motion of Moshers at Heavy Metal Concerts 🙂

  5. Richard,
    I’m impressed. I chickened out. Maybe next time 🙂

  6. Todd De Ryck says:

    I didn’t know much about them when I first listened to the song “Starlight”. Then a few years later I saw them perform in the London Olympics closing ceremonies and thought to myself “oh hey, they must be popular!” 🙂

  7. BBD says:

    Well, Muse sound disturbingly like U2 to me… very 80s vibe.

  8. Willard says:

    Artful mosh pits:

    Any resemblance to real ClimateBall players, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  9. andrew adams says:

    I’ve seen them a couple of times – Mrs A is more of a fan than me but they were still really good. They’re of those bands that you can get a kick out of seeing live even if you’re not a big fan. I envy Richard seeing them in a smaller venue though, they were at the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) when I saw them. My moshing days (to the extent that they existed) are long gone now though.

    This is probably my favourite

  10. andrew adams says:


    I hope my kids don’t drag me along to a concert like that. Not my kind of music at all.

    Muse denier!

    I’m hoping they’ll prefer something more like this

    Well you never know, if you get to them before they know what’s “cool” kids will tend to pick up whatever kind of music they are exposed to. My little boy (he’s 6) likes Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Pink, but also the Mamas and the Papas and Nancy Sinatra.

  11. BBD says:

    Good. Play them everything. That’s what I do. Seems only reasonable.

  12. William,
    As you can tell from my post, I know little of them myself, so I don’t know either. 🙂

  13. As a physicist you might be interested in this one….

    (Definitely one of my favorites 🙂 )

  14. Nathan says:

    ‘Map of the Problematique’ (whatever that means) is a great song

  15. Nathan says:

    The studio version be better

  16. BBD says:

    I see that Matt Bellamy (guitar; vocals) is a Diezel fan (fancy-pants boutique guitar amplifier; v. tasty). He’s got ears.

  17. > ‘Map of the Problematique’ (whatever that means)

    A possible interpretation:

  18. Steven Mosher says:

    long ago LA early 80’s Moshpit was a Mosher.

    Now that I am old and sentimental I’ve given up on the Clash

  19. BBD says:

    I’ve given up on the Clash

    They had their moments:

  20. JCH says:

    Rachel M – it can be done. Martie and Emily Erwin’s (fiddle player and banjo player in the Dixie Chicks) parents raised their girls in the Dallas bluegrass scene. Somehow they never got the rock bug. I knew them when they were growing up. There were actually a group of parents who did that. Brad Davis was another one of them. He plays guitar in Billy Bob Thornton’s band, which is kind of cool.

  21. Steven Mosher says:

    Yes BBD, seen them in LA 1982 with the Who and T bone burnett.


  22. Muse is probably in my top 50 favorite bands. but In my view the best of 2014 were Spoon and The New Pornographers.
    Neko Case ( the lead female vocalist of NPornos), doesn’t know it yet ( and DON’T tweet her!!), but I will be performing with her at the Cearwater Festival in June
    I went to a Stones concert when I was 6 in 1965 and cut my teeth on them the Airplane, Cream, Joni, CSNY and the Beatles, til settling on the Dead by the mid 70’s.
    In my view the music produced in the 21st century is by far the best the world has ever seen.

  23. Rachel M says:

    Andrew Adams and JCH,

    Yes, the plan is to brainwash my kids into liking the music I like 😉 Just kidding! I like all kinds of music and music is always playing in our house – from Miles Davis to Ray LaMontagne. The only thing I don’t like is the electric guitar which pretty much writes off all types of rock and I can’t stand heavy metal. I never went through a rock phase as a teenager. My parents also never played this type of music when I was growing up. I grew up listening to Opera mostly and I still appreciate it to this day.

  24. Marco says:

    Is this the music-sharing thread or something?

    Let me then scare you all with this one, mainly to show you don’t need any instruments (but for the human voice) to fill a room with awesome sound. One warning – do *not* turn up your volume though, there is a major crescendo in it.

  25. guthrie says:

    Nuts, I thought I had ticketmaster set up to tell me when they had a concern near me. Now I’ll have to wait until their tour with the new album, whenever that will be.

  26. Quentin says:

    As this blog likes to deal with the technical aspects – The problem with Muse’s recorded output (along with a great deal of music released in the past couple of decades) is that it has been mastered badly. The mastering engineers push the volume to the maximum a CD is capable of (even slightly beyond, causing “clipping” of the waveform which leads to distortion), and squash the dynamic range (difference between quiet and loud passages) until it is almost flat. This has come to be known as The Loudness Wars. If you look at the waveform of a song such as ‘Map of the Problematique’, linked to above, you will basically see a rectangular brick (known as ‘brickwalling’). This makes the music sound flat, loud, distorted, lacking in detail, and fatiguing to listen too (this becomes even more apparent if you listen on a decent hi-fi. This technique is also quite often used on remastered CD’s of old recordings. Technically CD’s are far better than vinyl and have a greater dynamic range, but the mastering very often makes it actually true (i.e. not subjective opinion) that modern recorded music sounds like crap (I’m more than willing to believe that Muse sound fantastic in a live setting).

  27. Quentin,
    Interesting, altthough I suspect that they would probably argue that it’s for effect 🙂

  28. anoilman says:

    Anders…. Are you a Compression Denier?

  29. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    FYI –

    Barry Woods launches a broadside at you/your blog over at Judith’s. Shocker.

    I love how Barry and other “skeptics” think that they’re scoring some points by calling you by your name rather than blog handle.

  30. BBD says:

    @ Quentin, ATTP, OilMan

    Don’t get me started!


  31. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    Reminds me of a gig 3 years back. My elder daughter wanted to see indie favourites Two Door Cinema Club in the Machester Apollo. You may not know their name, but you will know their music as they were used as a sound bed for every other Ad and TV trailer for a while:

    I ended up being the oldest member of the mosh pit by about 25 years 😦

    By the way, this is *THE* paper to cite on mosh pits:

  32. BBD says:

    Ha! The Manchester Apollo – that’s where I saw most of the gigs of my formative years 😉

  33. Joshua,
    I’m not that surprised. I pointed out that one of Barry’s comments to me on BH was “dickish” and I did ban him from here, so he’s probably just trying to get back at me.

  34. Joshua says:

    In moderation over there so can’t comment. Feel free to delete if you’d rather not have comments here focused on Judith’s blog – but in addition to Barry’s broadside, I think the comment thread is amusing.

    Commenters lining up to praise themselves for their open-mindedness and the brilliance of the convo at Climate Etc. even as they applaud moderation to keep out opposing views, don’t seem to notice the lack of diversity in viewpoint generally found at Judith’s, and don’t seem to consider that maybe there’s a smidgen of confirmation bias in their opinion that the convo they’re contributing to stands apart from others because of its brilliance and open-mindedness. 🙂

    Of particular interest is the comments about your moderation in comparison to Judith’s.

    It would be interesting to have some numbers on the % of “skeptics” that comment here in comparison to the % of “realists” that comment over at Judith’s. They’re convinced that ATTP is dramatically more of an “echo chamber” than Climate Etc. I tend to doubt it – although it is true that very few folks have ever been “banned” at Climate Etc. – while quite a few folks have been banned over here. If I’m right, and the degree of diversity is not significantly higher there than here, then it’s interesting that’s true despite that more folks have been banned here. Not sure if anything can be concluded from that other than that Anders and Judith have different moderation policies. But of course, being inclined towards confirmation bias, “skeptics” will conclude that the higher # of bans here proves that “realists” are intolerant and “skeptics” are poor, poor victims of neo-McCarthyism.

    Does WUWT have a similar moderation policy to ATTP? I’d say so. Is there a lower “diversity” of viewpoint there than here? I’d say so. Again, I doubt that any generalizations can be drawn.

    Certainly, if we subtracted out the regular “realist” commenters over there who are so often the target for requests for banning an/or moderation (ahem), or subjected to ad homs or attacked for making worthless comments, there’d hardly be any diversity over there at all. My favorite was when of the most knowledgeable and non-aggressive commenters in the history of the climate-o-sphere, Fred Moulton (sp?) was regularly the subject of ad homs at Climate Etc. from “skeptics” who would applaud themselves for being so open-minded and un-biased.

    Of course, the “skeptical” commenters here are often treated in a similar fashion as “realist” commenters are at Climate Etc. – although I happen to think not as viciously (I wonder what they think?) Is that because the “skeptics” here are less antagonistic than the “realists” at Climate Etc.? There are a couple of “skeptical” commenters at Judith’s for whose attacks on me make up a very significant % of their overall comments (Tom Fuller, Pokerguy, tim-something or other, Springer, Don Monfort, a new “denizen” David Eisenstadt, Bad Andrew, etc). I can’t think of any parallels for that here – the folks that lob grenades at the “skeptics” here tend to contribute many comments on other subjects as well – although it would probably be true that there aren’t any commenters here that contribute as high a % of the comments as I do at Judith’s.

  35. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Just read your comment over at Judith’s.

    Interesting that you say that you’ve banned a relatively small number while my impression is that it is “quite a few.” Obviously, lots of ambiguity in both descriptions but maybe you’re right, but that the incessant whining about “censorship” makes the number seem larger than it is? But when you say “relatively” few you don’t say relative to what. Relative to the overall number of commenters? “skeptical” commenters? Relative to other blogs?

  36. Steven Mosher says:

    “The only thing I don’t like is the electric guitar which pretty much writes off all types of rock and I can’t stand heavy metal.”

    you simply need to listen to better guitar players. The king

    and heavy metal is much better when filtered through the weirdness that is Japan

  37. Joshua says:

    Appropriate Japanese Metal:

  38. BBD says:

    Just for Rachel


  39. Pingback: Collective Motion of Humans in Mosh and Circle Pits at Heavy Metal Concerts | ClimateBall (tm)

  40. anoilman says:

    Getting BBD started, a Muse for the denier community;

  41. BBD says:


    Getting BBD started, a Muse for the denier community

    There was a reason I picked The Clash I Fought The Law (And The Law Won).


  42. Willard says:

    I’ll raise you a Radio Birdman, Oily One:

    Here’s my collection of Never Ending Music:

  43. Rachel M says:

    There was some research a couple of years ago about the link between music tastes and personality traits. It was found that people who like jazz have/are: “high self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease”. People who like heavy metal have/are: “low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, at ease”.

    You can’t beat Miles Davis:

  44. Rachel,
    That research is from Heriot-Watt University. I wouldn’t take it seriously 😀

  45. Willard says:

    > You can’t beat Miles Davis:

    Of course you can:

    The great jazz trumpeter Miles Davis was beaten by New York City police officers and arrested on this day. Davis was finishing a two-week stint at the famous Birdland Jazz Club. While taking a break, Davis escorted a young white woman outside where they could smoke. A white police officer ordered him to “move on.” Davis replied, “For what?” The officer decided to arrest him, a physical struggle ensued, and three detectives joined in and began beating Davis. A crowd of 200 people quickly appeared. Davis was subsequently acquitted of the charges of disorderly conduct and assaulting an officer. The story, complete with pictures, received wide news media coverage, and served to dramatize the simmering issue of racism in the New York City Police Department.

  46. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    Rachel. Alice Coltrane does a good job at trying to beat Miles here:

  47. BBD says:


    It was found that people who like jazz have/are: “high self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease”. People who like heavy metal have/are: “low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, at ease”.

    I can happily listen to Van Halen 1 (hard rock not really heavy metal) and A Kind of Blue (I have both, and much more MD and Coltrane). What does that say about me? Am I eclectic or just confused?


  48. Joshua,

    Interesting that you say that you’ve banned a relatively small number while my impression is that it is “quite a few.”

    If I go through my blacklist, there are some I don’t even recognise and are simply people who wrote some insulting comment and were banned without even being allowed to comment at all. Of those who have names people would recognise, I count 9. That is, actually, slightly more than I had realised, so is it “quite a few” or “relatively small”? I don’t know. Maybe it is a large fraction of the vocal minority, but there still seem to be plenty of sceptics commenting here.

  49. BBD says:

    For Rachel and Willard:

    Sorry, not the live version vid but all the links I tried were blocked by lawyers.

  50. Rachel M says:

    BBD and Bwana,
    I’ve just been listening. Very nice 🙂

    And BBD, I think enjoying a range of music styles is a good thing. Have you ever heard the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain?

  51. Arthur Smith says:

    Hey, I remember about 8 years back, dropping off my 4-year-old at pre-kindergarten, he was happily singing Tom Lehrer’s “So Long Mom, I’m off to drop the bomb” 🙂 And the kids would often request a Woody Guthrie tune driving along with me. Now I think their favorite genre is movie soundtracks (John Williams, whoever did Lord of the Rings) and video game music.., so not expecting a moshpit visit any time soon here!

  52. BBD says:


    Have you ever heard the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain?

    Actually I have 🙂

    An old friend has a music shop in which there are Many Ukes. He it was that turned me on to TUOGB’s unforgettable Ennio Morricone tribute 🙂

    A word of caution though. Ukes are a gateway instrument. People think you can just pick them up and put them down whenever you’ve had enough but it’s a slippery slope and you are playing with fire. Before you know it, you will look down and discover a guitar in your hands and a Marshall stack in the corner. Then it’s the double-sleeve tats, spade beard and shaved head and it’ll be amps on 11 and drop tunings for teh brootz tonez…

    I’ve seen it happen. Tragic.

  53. Willard says:

    I’m gonna tell you a little secret:

    Quiet is the new loud.

  54. Rachel M says:

    You know what I like Willard 🙂

  55. Eli Rabett says:

    Having had both experiences, Eli will definitely take the rugby crowds over the tweenies headed to a One Direction concert.

  56. JCH says:

    This video was ground zero for the Uke revival. I used to sell guitars for Collings. Somebody sent me a link to this guy, and emailed back that Ukes would take off. At the time Collings badly made any Ukes at all. Vintage Ukes used to be guitar show junk; now they’re legit:

  57. JCH says:

    Barely – robot speller. Collings makes spectacular Ukes.

  58. Kevin ONeill says:

    You say ukelele. I immediately think, Tiny Tim.

    This is not a good thing.

  59. Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks all, that was fun.

    If this doesn’t come up I’ll look up the code and figure out how to get it to post. It’s a bit of a change of pace, but hope y’all enjoy it (Clash fan too, but moshpits: it’s been a while). Where’s Horatio when one wants him (no, don’t ask). It gets better after the first minute and the fun really starts at 2:30 or so, though one might not exactly call it music:

  60. BBD says:

    Wonderfully unhinged thread.

  61. JCH says:

    Susan – he used to play at The Three Teardrops. Then it would be Junior Brown, and then the Dixie Chicks before Trashville got their hands of them. Great times.

  62. Steven Mosher says:

    “Having had both experiences, Eli will definitely take the rugby crowds over the tweenies headed to a One Direction concert.”

    Spot the rabbit hopping:

  63. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli can get you a deal

  64. JCH says:

    On Rachel’s notion of steering a kid musically, this girl grew up in South Korea, and end up going toe to toe with Mark O’Conner:

  65. BBD says:

    Loop Stations are Good Things…

  66. For Rachel. Thelonius Monk.

    At first I was not sure if the guy could play piano, but he does, what could generously be called piano playing, very consistently. Brilliant.

    For the others. Tricky.

    If you do not live in Germany, you can probably hear the album Blowback here. A sample.

    Unfortunately my amplifier does not even go to 11. They do not make music like that any more.

  67. Rachel M says:

    Thanks, Victor. That’s very nice.

  68. russellseitz says:

    Judging by the loud noises coming from the event horizons, it’s been a great year for black holes .

  69. Russell,
    I seem to remeber you having a great comment about black hole event horizons, that I can no longer find. Maybe you could point me to it, if you can think of which one I mean.

  70. Quentin says:

    Apparently Thelonious Monk’s wife used to call him Melodious Thunk.

  71. Rachel M says:

    Apparently Thelonious Monk’s wife used to call him Melodious Thunk.

    That’s cute.

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