Muse | 09.14.06

"Soldier's Poem" deserves a mention just for the sheer brilliance and beauty of such a song, perfectly highlighting Chris Wolstenholme's skills at harmonizing alongside Matt Bellamy.

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Photo by Anne Martin 

The Pageant, St. Louis

I'm a huge fan of Muse, especially their live show. If there's one band that has truly perfected the live aspect of their music, Muse would be that band. You can't deny that they put on one hell of a rock show. Bringing back bombacity was the best decision Muse could have ever made. Separating themselves from every other rock band, they put together a complete live show, one that includes stunning visuals and an intense light show to highlight the talents of Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard, and Chris Wolstenholme. To try and review just the musical aspect of the show would be doing a disservice to anyone who had the unfortunate fate of missing the show. Featuring an all white set (white piano, white and clear drums, white drum stage, white amp, white and clear vertical tubes, and white vertical sheeting), the light show was displayed upon anything that was white, including the band members' outfits. To get a taste of the visuals you'd literally have to see the show to believe it, but for those unlucky enough, galloping horses, song lyrics, old-school propaganda films, and shadows of Absolution-posed bodies were flashed on the sheets along with enough strobe lights to incite several epileptic seizures. If you don't believe me, I'm sure it's on the Internet.

Opening with obvious crowd favorite and current single, Knights of Cydonia, Muse start the show with that long buildup which eventually leads to the adamant lyric, "No one's going to take me alive." If you don't believe the words that are coming out of Bellamy's mouth, believe the crowd is are surrounding you, singing along. Make no mistake, Muse are there to rock. Rarely did you hear them banter to the crowd, and when they did, it was the signature "Cheers" they often retort after a song or two. While some complain about the lack of audience interaction, Muse connect with the fans better by keeping quiet and maintaining the intensity. From bassist Wolstenholme's continuous head banging to drummer Howard's insane drumming, I kept finding my eyes revert back to Bellamy and his contorted body. From jumping and kicking and swinging his guitar around, to grandiose gesturing, sliding on the floor, and doing the sideways moonwalk, Bellamy's body language made it difficult to decipher who was having more fun, him or you. The trading of energy was apparent, as the crowd fed off of the band as much as the band fed off the crowd. This was most notable example was when the band broke into songs like "Assassin," "Plug in Baby," "Time Is Running Out," and set ender "Stockholme Syndrome."

One of the highlights of the night, and a rarity of the tour so far, was a four-song encore that opened with "Apocalypse Please" before kicking the mood down a bit. "Soldier's Poem" deserves a mention just for the sheer brilliance and beauty of such a song, perfectly highlighting Wolstenholme's skills at harmonizing alongside Bellamy. If you were keen to notice the megaphone atop the piano, the third song of the encore was an easy guess. One of the two older songs played during the night was also a set list rarity, a cover of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." And to top off the night, drummer Howard was able to display his new found skills using the Buchla 200e starting off the final song of the night, "Take a Bow." From opening line, "No one's going to take me alive" to the closing words "you will burn in hell for your sins," every minute of the show was an emotional, bombastic display of rock music to the tenth power.

Before you ask, yes, there was an opening band. I usually feel bad for bands that have to open for Muse, as it's just like watching the freshman team play a warm up game prior to watching the World Series. The Like (yes, I remembered their name; did you?) found themselves sinking before they even took the stage. A tough crowd as it is, they were way out of their league, and it showed. To their credit, they wrote catchy songs, the singer had a good voice, and they were girls. One concertgoer commented, "If the singer wasn't so hot, I'd boo them." The singer reminded me of Debbie Harry in a way, but even that wasn't going to help win over new fans. I've seen six different bands open for Muse, and the Like have probably been one of the better bands to grace the stage.

While the show was probably not the best I've seen them, they still performed above and beyond what many other bands would consider a great show. If this is what Muse look on an off night, I don't think the crowd could have handled seeing them had they been dead on.

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