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Concert Reviews:
Muse lights up the night at Joe Louis Arena

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013

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DETROIT -- The two-part title suite of Muse's latest album, "The 2nd Law," deals with theories of unsustainable energies and finite resources -- topics that have little to do with the band's skills on stage.

The British trio's 21-song show on Saturday night, March 2, at Joe Louis Arena was a characteristic spectacle, an hour and 50 minutes marked by clever staging and inventive lighting and visual effects that bolstered Muse's already muscular amalgam of 70s-style pomp rock (primarily Queen), New Wave and New Romantic, EDM, industrial and the odd touch of goth. Chief among those was a network of LED screens that formed the shape of a pyramid, both regular and inverted, above the band and joined with other video boards around the stage to dress things up with a mix of live footage of the band and prepared images, such as the purple gorilla in fly attire dancing along to the seriously funky "Panic Station."

During "Madness," meanwhile, frontman Matt Bellamy sported a pair of shades that reflected some of the song's lyrics as he sang.

Lasers cut through arena at various points of the show while jets blew streams of CO2 smoke at the front of the stage, and ramps along the side and jutting out into the crowd let Bellamy and bassist Chris Wolstenholme get a little closer to the crowd -- including a trip into the security pit during "Undisclosed" that let Bellamy press a little fan flesh.

Of course, all of the eye candy would have been superfluous if the music didn't hold up, but brought the aural goods along with the visual on Saturday.

Following a strong half-hour from Los Angeles' Dead Sara that was enthusiastically received by the Muse faithful, the headliner started strong with the techy "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" that led into a pounding "Supremacy." Muse focused primarily on the latest album -- nine songs, including a sweet version of "Explorers" that followed a trippy drum-and-bass intro by Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard -- but kept it's past in the present, too, from early career chestnuts such as "Sunburn" and "New Born" to hit anthems such as "Supermassive Black Hole" (preceded by a bit of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker") and "Uprising" that pushed Muse's stature into the pop stratosphere.

The performances themselves were kept fairly tight and faithful, with Bellamy taking some extended guitar solos during "Hysteria" and the lengthy "New Born." Wolstenholme, meanwhile, led into "Knights of Cydonia" with a brief harmonica introduction, and auxiliary member Morgan Nicholls, tucked to the side of Howard's drums, filled the group's sound with keyboards and extra guitar and percussion.

With only one outright dead spot -- an inconsequential "The 2nd Law: Isolated System," with the LED pyramid covering the band -- Muse staked another claim on Saturday as one of the best live bands currently operating in rock. And no power failure appears likely for the future.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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