Show Review: Muse @ The ACC


Inspires The ACC

March 8 2010

It seems that all of a sudden, everyone has caught on to how amazing Muse is.  Obviously, nothing compares to their manic UK fan base; but the last time they played in Toronto it was a not-quite-sold out gig at Arrow Hall in 2007.  Tonight they’ve sold out the ACC.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Stephenie Meyers gushing about them in the liner notes of every one of the Twilight saga books and the inclusion of their music in the accompanying movies has something to do with it.  Luckily though, there are no obvious ‘Twihards’ in sight.
The night starts with a bit of miscommunication.  The time on the tickets, which usually signifies the door opening, apparently means the opener’s set time tonight.  Arriving a little late, I assume I’ve only missed a bit of Silversun Pickups.  However, I take my seat to an empty stage.  A few minutes later the three giant pillars on stage begin to light up, imitating an office tower staircase; silhouettes of drones trudging upwards before falling to their demise.  This is far too big of a production for an opening band, it’s Muse.  Curtains drop and Matt Bellamy (vocals/guitar/piano), Chris Wolstenhome (bass) and Dominic Howard (drums) are revealed, perched halfway up each pedestal, about 20 feet off the ground.
Unlike most bands, Muse opens their set with their two newest singles, ‘Uprising’ and ‘Resistance’.  These garner a lot of praise, but the show doesn’t really get started until the peak moment in the third song- ‘New Born’ from Origin of Symmetry.  Clearly the strong, silent types, Muse lets their talent speak for them; only spurting a few words of gratitude here and there.  Their musical genius just bulldozes right over us. There is someone on stage playing their instrument at every possible moment, and each band member is given their turn in the spotlight. Even though these guys are 100% rock stars, they come with 0% ego.  They clearly love what they do and want to make sure we’re given our money’s worth.
Muse’s live light show is nothing short of phenomenal.  Green lasers sweep and shoot around the venue for several songs; overwhelming to even my sober brain.  Matt even does his own light work; turning a flashing strobe and a giant floodlight over the audience from time to time.  The guys aren’t stranded on top of their pillars either, the structures move up and down throughout the performance, allowing them to sprawl across the rest of the stage.  These pillars also serve as giant screens, on which extensive video work is projected. This combined with their overall stage presence makes them the only band I’ve seen to rival the genius that is Nine Inch Nails live.
If there’s one thing to be said about Muse, it’s that they really know how to create a set list.  They somehow manage to play all the best songs from Origin of Symmetry, Absolution, Black Holes and Revelations and The Resistance.  The crowd proves how popular their single ‘Starlight’ is by flawlessly singing its entire first chorus without Matt’s guidance.  This happens again during ‘Time is Running Out’.  The extensively covered ‘Feeling Good’ also incites a great response, especially when Matt pulls out his signature megaphone to give it a little flavour.
During ‘Plug In Baby’, giant eyeball balloons spill down from the rafters.  They travel their way down to the floor area where they’re bounced around by fans until they pop- raining confetti down on everyone.  Normally these effects indicate the end of a performance; so the arrival of these eyeballs is a little melancholy. However, the guys end up playing two more songs before returning for a four-part encore.  ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and the epic ‘Knights of Cydonia’ wrap up the set.  Fans stumble out of the ACC after the show, as if awakening from a wonderful dream.  And I almost find myself looking forward to more Twilight movies to continue Muse’s success so that they’ll return soon…almost.

(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine-Apr 4 2010)


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on March 3, 2011, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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