Muse at Pepsi Center, 9/17/13
MUSE at PEPSI CENTER | 9/17/13
A Muse show is never short on spectacle and stunning visuals, and this Pepsi Center date was no exception. One of the most impressive moments came at the beginning of "Sunburn" when a single turquoise beam came down from the ceiling to a sphere held by Matthew Bellamy, where it then seemed to split into multiple beams of light that streamed from a darkened stage out over the heads of the audience. As the song progressed, that lighting gave way to some of the most vivid and fluidly moving colors of the entire set. It was transporting and riveting at once.
The beginning of the Muse set was a production in itself with video screens extending across the base of the stage in a half circle around to the back with a pyramid-shaped structure bearing screens that showed black and white footage.
As disembodied voices from some kind of radio broadcast flooded the room, the pyramid descended, and that's the last time it touched the stage until later in the set. From there, the band treated us to an extravaganza of light and sound, the likes of which rarely happen outside of a Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails concert.
What was also interesting was how such a popular and mainstream band could take such clear shots at status-quo politics in its lyrics. While the band has always scrutinized society, seeing that kind of content delivered in such a grandiose manner was refreshing.
Admirably, Muse hasn't toned down its populist rhetoric as it became more commercially successful and popular. But it wasn't just politicizing. On "Liquid State," which was sung by bassist Chris Wolstenholme on the platform jutting out from the stage, Wolstenholme struck a personal chord with the crowd, reflecting on his struggle with alcohol.
Over the course of the show Bellamy had some obvious vocal inflections reminiscent of Bono, Thom Yorke or even Josh Homme, along with some of the music, but all in all, Muse took those elements and channeled it into a different direction, casting it in its own mold with music that is never short on vivid tones, visceral rhythms and atmospheres and projected emotional intensity.
Continue on for more on Cage the Elephant's set, plus Setlist and Critic's Notebook