Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Muse @ Toyota Center in Houston, 3/12/13

Muse's tour supporting their most recent album, The 2nd Law, has been mostly a success to this point. During a tour of a couple dozen European markets in the winter, Muse announced they would be bringing the tour to North American shores in 2013, to much excitement from their fans.

The shows have been earning rave reviews, not only for the band's incredible stage with a moving and constantly contorting "pyramid" of LED panels, but also for their spectacular musicianship, showmanship, and energy. They brought it all to Toyota Center in Houston last Tuesday, March 12, 2013 to what seemed to be a nearly sold out crowd. The floor was packed full of devotees who would show their love for their band with an all-out sing-along to Time is Running Out.

This was my second Muse show, as I was about 50 feet from the stage for their 2010 headlining set at Austin City Limits Festival. While that show featured perhaps a stronger connection with the crowd, this tour proved that Muse is truly a global class act when it comes to shiny, pretty things on stage. Guitars were lit up with LEDs. Lyrics flashed across lead singer Matthew Bellamy's sunglasses at one point, reminiscent of a stock ticker. These are things you don't see every day. It's frankly impossible to be bored at a Muse concert. Just wait 30 seconds and something interesting will light up, implode, or shoot out of a cannon.

That being said, they've earned their fair share of criticism for the direction the band has taken with the last two albums. Playing with direct references to Queen-like bravado (United States of Eurasia), classical music (Exogenesis: Symphony), and oh-so-of-the-moment dubstep (The 2nd Law: Unsustainable), Muse continues to question its own sound, while at the same time defining and pushing it further into something unique. Perhaps it's the fusion of all their influences that will continue to make the band interesting in the years ahead. Regardless, any Muse song translates better live in concert, whether we're talking about an old classic, a rarity, or a new wordless abstract piece. They've learned to walk a very fine line of performance grandiosity and clearly-visible talent.

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