January 23, 2013
Last night marked the first of three sold-out Muse shows at Staples Center, and the UK-based trio came out guns ablazin'. For anyone who has seen the rockers live before, this should be no surprise. Aside from being talented musicians, Matthew Bellamy and company sure know how to entertain.
The set began with "Unsustainable," the dramatic turned dub step-tinged almost instrumental track off the band's latest release, The 2nd Law. Intricate red lights flashed as the three-piece (four live) jammed, their backs to the audience. Screens lit up onstage as it was revealed the stage was surrounded by projectors both behind the band and lining the drum riser and stage's edge. As the audience tried to process the sensory overload, Muse went right into "Supremacy," another song off last year's album.
Bellamy strutted onto a catwalk jutting from the stage as he passionately strummed his guitar. Lights flashed blue behind him. As the intro for "Panic Station," began to play, an inverted pyramid descended from the sky, glowing with red lights before projecting television screens with a charismatic purple monster dancing in hightop sneakers. The triangular fixture's images changed with each song, varying from whirling, Planetarium-like visual's during 2001's single, "Bliss," to a roulette wheel bouncing its ball along the screen's corners during "Stockholm Syndrome."
As the set progressed, the band pulled out various "rockstar" cliches. Bellamy wailed "The Star Spangled Banner," as an intro to "Hysteria," and continually used the catwalk as a place to vivaciously rock out during guitar solos. He allowed the crowd to sing choruses for him during "Time Is Running Out," and hopped into the crowd (behind a barrier, of course), to shake his fans hands and flirt with the camera during the sex dripping single, "Undisclosed Desires," off 2009's The Resistance. However, though this is something that can easily come off as cheesy or insincere, when Muse acts this way, it almost looks natural. When Bellamy fell to his knees during "Follow Me," it was chilling, and when he reached his hands to the crowd, it was hard not to be at least somewhat envious of those close enough to touch him. He was meant for the stage, and while up there, he was larger than life.
It's hard to imagine that Muse will be up on that stage again tonight and Saturday night, and it's even harder to believe this is just the beginning of a U.S. tour that spans April before the band heads back to Europe to play shows well into the summer. But if one thing is certain, they will have just as much gusto during their last show of the year as they did during their first show of the tour. I think they might be robots.
Critical Bias: Muse is not only an extremely talented band, but their show is a spectacle. Well worth the money.
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Crowd: Leather jackets, and lots of them.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Is this band real?"
Random Notebook Dump: I think their light show cost more than my life.