“The closest thing I can compare it to is the film Gladiator”: Muse’s Matt Bellamy on what it’s like being at the centre of an enormodome rock show

Muse live in 2016
(Image credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

The am-I-going-to-soil-myself nerves and subsequent elation of arriving onstage to headline your own arena gig is something that only a small minority of the human race will ever experience. The closest most of us will get is probably this article, in which we get to peer into Matt Bellamy’s brain as the Muse frontman breaks down exactly what it feels like to be a rock superstar. Please do not veer away from the guided tour whilst we are in there – there are parts of Matt Bellamy’s brain that are not suitable for public consumption. Take it away, Matt:

“Literally in the space of a few seconds, you transition from feeling like ‘I don’t know if I can do this’, ‘I don’t know if I’m worthy of this’ or ‘I don’t know if I can do what people want me to do’, you transition from being that to being ‘I am the fucking king of the world!’,” the Muse singer and guitarist told this writer back in 2016. At that point, the Teignmouth trio had just come off the back of a triumphant tour to support their 2015 album Drones, a jaunt that included a record-breaking show at London’s O2 Arena. The band broke the venue’s attendance record with their performance on April 15th 2016, playing to a crowd of 21,000 people.

The Drones tour saw Bellamy arrive onstage via a hydraulic lift, an experience that he said made his entrance even more intense. “It was very specific on that tour cos the lift was on the ground and no-one could see me, the lift comes up and then I’m up and the light comes on me,” he recalled. “It’s that transition on the lift, that moment it comes up, I’m waiting 20 or 30 seconds, and as it comes up, that moment you feel the fear. The closest thing I can compare to it is that film Gladiator, the bit when you see the guys waiting to go into the main gladiatorial arena, that moment of ‘I don’t know if I can go in there and do this’, but then something happens to you and something comes over you. It’s a very strange transition. It’s almost like there’s some deeper layer of my own self that isn’t part of my everyday life. In my everyday life, I’m pretty shy, pretty normal but then there’s something else that comes out when you’re thrown into the pit.”

So there you go, our tour of Matt Bellamy’s brain is complete, now you can go back to your life of not being a monster rock star who is never going to experience what it feels like to have 21,000 people roar at the mere sight of you and your guitar.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.