Muse | 03.08.13

muse 2013_75Throughout the performance of “Madness,” Bellamy’s glasses projected the lyrics, proving to be the sexiest indoor sunglasses I’ve ever seen.

 

muse 2013_500 

Muse Photos: Bruce Matlock

Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis

Muse is the trio of Matt Bellamy (guitar, vocals), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass), and Dominic Howard (drums). Their music could best be described modern progressive rock with a symphonic tinge that leaves a feeling you of accomplishment. Their songs are mostly composed of forward-thinking lyrics that take place in a dystopian future. They are strongly opposed to corrupt governmental institutions and have made that very clear in their past two albums.

Upon first glance, I imagined we were on the set of some new Star Trek series, but one that could actually afford a set. Surrounding the stage were about 40 massive screens in the shape of a “U,” complete with a catwalk all the way around. As the lights faded, the intense “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” began. Blood-red lights and towers of smoke assaulted the stage as Muse made their way on stage, and burst into “Supremacy.” As “Supermassive Blackhole” made its way onto the set list, a gargantuan red ziggurat of LED screens descended above the middle of the stage. It was a testament to the power they held over the audience as of that moment. Everyone, myself included, seemed captivated by the intensity of what was unfolding before our eyes.

Switching tones for the first time in the night, they broke into the funky, Queen-esque “Panic Station,” complete with a couple aliens playing saxophones and groovy purple dinosaurs on every screen. Switching again, they glided into a more somber number; “Resistance.” My one complaint of the night came at the end of “Resistance,” when Matt Bellamy played the ever-gratuitous “National Anthem.” I realize that they hail from England, and maybe it was like an attempt to be courteous, but honestly, I just don’t want to hear it at concerts anymore.

My interest was immediately sparked once again when I sensed the chilling bass intro to “Hysteria.” Next was my favorite moment of the night: a chilling performance of “Man With a Harmonica” by Christopher Wolstenholme, originally composed by Ennio Morricone. His silhouette was cast upon the audience, only broken by the ghostly spotlight shining off of Bellamy’s mirror box that he spun to his heart’s desire. The harmonica was tossed into an undulating fountain of hands, and “Knights of Cydonia” had begun. The crowd was uproarious at this point, and the show was only halfway through.

“Explorers” is somewhat of a piano ballad: delicate, soulful, and a fitting cool-down after “Knights.” One of the most amazing points in the light show was “Follow Me,” during which I’m convinced at least 14 people had seizures. Then, going for the oldest song of the night, they played “Sunburn” off their debut album, Showbiz. Next was arguably the most intense song off of The 2nd Law, “Liquid State.” It’s one of the few songs sung by Wolstenholme. (who I’m not sure can get his voice below a falsetto. No disrespect, son!). “Madness” is already one of the most whimsical and captivating songs in the Muse catalog, and Bellamy’s sunglasses complete with brainwashing messages sealed the deal. Throughout the performance of the song, his glasses projected the lyrics, proving to be the sexiest indoor sunglasses I’ve ever seen.

Muse finished off the set with older material from Absolution and Resistance. They definitely left the audience incomplete with the passionate “Stockholm Syndrome” and anarchical “Uprising.” As “Uprising” came to a wonderful close, the ziggurat of screens that has dazzled the audience for the entirety of the night descend on the stage and trapped the band inside while they finished with the ending piece of “Freedom” by Rage Against the Machine. It was an ironic juxtaposition to be imprisoned by a pyramid of screens projecting images old-timey televisions.

For a minute I wasn’t sure if they’d be coming back for an encore, but after what felt much longer than I imagine it really was, they came back and finished with “Starlight” and “Survival.” It was kind of them to finish on an inspirational number, truly a concert that I and I imagine many others will remember for years.

Before Muse came on, we were “graced” with the presence of Dead Sara. Before the show, I took a listen through their albums, which were enjoyable, but not really my style. They’re most closely related to something from the post-grunge era of bands like Bush and Creed. I must give credit to Emily Armstrong for her distinct husky vocals. At times, she sounded like a Janis Joplin impersonator, which was impressive, but she was most definitely not playing with Big Brother & the Holding Company.

Between songs, the banter can best be described as confusing—e.g., “The feeling is mutual, like a fucking fortune cookie” when addressing the screaming Muse fans. It didn’t help that I felt like somewhere the sound guy must have dropped the ball. The echo and reverb were so bad that one had to struggle in order to understand anything she said. While exposure is great and opening for Muse is a good way to get it, they need to be playing a much smaller venue. Dead Sara was not ready for a stage of that magnitude. | Brian Cheli


Muse Photo Gallery: Bruce Matlock

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