I believe that I usually have a pretty good feel for how big a band is, but I have to admit to completely underestimating Muse. I figured the group was huge in Europe but had a somewhat lesser appeal and following here in the states. Apparently I was wrong. Very wrong! The English trio (along with a touring keyboardist/guitarist) played to a sold out, rapturous audience at one of San Diego’s biggest venues and absolutely killed it! The crowd was on their feet, jumping, screaming, and singing along to nearly every song. This was the first time I have seen a show “in the round,” with the band placed in the center of the arena, and it makes me wonder why more artists don’t do this. The setup really engaged the fans on the floor and made it so that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
On this night Muse delivered the goods in every way. They played a 21 song set that pulled tracks from throughout their 21-year career – though it was weighted heavily towards their new album, Drones. There was a long, chanted intro where large, illuminated orbs floated around above the darkened stage, and then the monster riff of “Psycho” erupted and pretty much everything exploded! At first we thought the big-ass balls were suspended from the ceiling – but it turns out that they were giant drones themselves and came out whenever the band played a song off of their latest album.
Every part of the show, including the lights, the projections, the drones, and the way the musicians worked the stage, was a perfect match to the overwhelming sound the band was creating. Muse can come across as bombastic, and their stage show backs that up, but really the complex themes they are presenting, along with their message-driven lyrical content, belie that notion.
The last couple of pictures above are from their final song, “Knights of Cydonia” off of the 2006 album Black Holes & Revelations, and they show how this was an old-fashioned rock concert – like seeing Queen back in 1977. The music mattered, of course, but more than that the band created a spectacle on stage that made it a truly memorable experience. I won’t ever underestimate this band again…
Here are some videos from my seat: