Muse at the Pepsi Center, 9-17-13 (photos, review)By Laura Keeney | September 18th, 2013 | 4 comments
Muse‘s arena rock spectacle at the Pepsi Center was relentless on Tuesday. The three piece from the UK, on tour to support their latest release “The 2nd Law,” took things completely over the top in the best way possible, walking a very fine line between awesome and pretentious with a visual-fueled extravaganza.
The set itself was immense: dozens of TV screens in a giant pyramid that ascended and descended various times. Surrounding the stage were enormous vertical screens in a half-velodrome shape, while smaller ones ran across the front. These were used to great effect throughout the show, displaying images ranging from the bloated face of a greedy corporate type, to images of the band doing kung-fu moves and other bizarre dance steps. At times, stock numbers scrolled across the bottom, moving from green to red during “Animal,” a song mocking corporate values. It was Green Day without the posing, U2 without, well, the pompous jerks. And it was glorious.
Muse has long held a fascination with themes of science, space and dystopic futures and has never been afraid to veer off in new musical directions (see the dubstep track “Unsustainable” from their latest release…need I say more?) and each of their albums has a markedly-different approach. This is never more apparent than when songs off each of the band’s six studio releases are played together. At times, the transition between tracks is seamless. At others, it can be best described as listening to a mix tape made by someone who has no concept of the importance of the song sequence in making sure it flows perfectly: A little odd, but yet it still works.
The show opened with the subdued, haunting chords of “The 2nd Law: Isolated System” and carried straight into the pounding â€œSupremacy,” which drove recent Muse devotees wild. Following that was “Hysteria” off 2003′s “Absolution,” which blew the roof off the place, followed by a long set — 19 tracks total (20 if you count “Isolated System”) — that never let up. The highlights were “Plug-in Baby” from 2001′s “Origin of Symmetry” and “Sunburn,” the first track off the band’s first album, 1999′s “Showbiz.”
There was one off-putting moment during the band’s latest hit “Madness.” Singer Matt Bellamy mugged for a camera while wearing a pair of video glasses that simultaneously scrolled words across his lenses and on to the stageâ€™s massive screens … and something small inside me died a little. Guys, take note: Muse should remain a Zootopia-free zone. Please.
But that’s also perhaps the thing about Muse: the band is always over the top. The songs range from headbanging to dance-clubby pop — sometimes all within the same track. There are operatic falsettos and piano solos alongside dubstep and screaming guitars. It’s confusing, often political, exhilarating, sexy and excessive. And that’s exactly how arena rock should be.
Footnote: Muse, along with the Pepsi Center, donated proceeds from merch sales to the Colorado flood relief effort. Class act.
The 2nd Law: Isolated System (intro)
Supermassive Black Hole
Hysteria (Star-Spangled Banner intro)
Knights of Cydonia
(Ennio Morricone’s Man with a Harmonica intro)
Plug In Baby
Time Is Running Out
(Rage Against the Machines Freedom outro)
The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
Laura Keeney is a community manager and journalist for YourHub Denver who writes about technology, business and nerdy things for The Denver Post. Sheâ€™s quite obsessed with Joe Strummer. Follow her @LauraKeeney and @onnabugeisha.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.