Having attained multi-platinum success with "Resistance" and a breathtaking world tour that spanned nearly two years, Muse have returned with the critically acclaimed "The 2nd Law" that is another masterpiece from start to finish. Their 2013 tour packed the house at the United Center in Chicago on March 4 with Dead Sara opening the show.
Muse recently broke the record for consecutive weeks atop Billboard's Alternative Chart with "Madness." They dislodged the Foo Fighters from the record books after spending 19 weeks as the #1 single. Oddly enough, Imagine Dragons recently knocked Muse from their lofty position last week and were also in Chicago for a show tonight.
Performing on a three-tiered stage that formed a large semicircle, Muse began with the operatic "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" while large puffs of smoke shot along the entire front perimeter of the lower platform. A video screen along the front stage edge separated the bottom deck from the massive main stage. Another large video screen formed the backdrop, such that it curved around the back portion of the stage and was capped by an upper platform that also wrapped along the band like a horseshoe. Fans were seated around the entire circumference of the arena.
A bevy of lights from all directions were cast toward center stage, where Dominic Howard's drum platform was situated near dead center. Matthew Bellamy cast electronic riffs alongside Christopher Wolstenholme's heavy bass lines as the trio rocked in close proximity to Howard. A massive, five level inverted pyramid formed a complex series of video screens that projected additional imagery throughout the night directly above the drum platform. Each layer of the video pyramid moved independently, yielding stunning imagery.
The addictive "Supremacy," the most recent and fourth single from "2nd Law," has all the aspects of a James Bond theme song. Its catchy hooks and richly textured string section blend perfectly with Bellamy's powerful voice. Wolstemholme's thundering bass formed the underlying foundation for a piercing, high-pitched chorus crescendo that sent a shock wave across the cavernous United Center. It sent a message to the fans--Muse has arrived and you will be entertained this evening.
Moving through "Supermassive Black Hole," "Panic Station" and "Resistance" early kept the energy high and showed why Muse are at the top of their game. Blending aspects of Queen, U2, Radiohead and Rush into a powerful and orchestrated musical presence. Complex arrangements that cross genres on a dime, they live by their own rules and have developed a formula that has remained fresh across six albums, assimilating styles into an infectious electronic-rock fusion.
Fans behind the stage might have had the best view of the night. Elevated slightly above the stage they had a unique perspective over the crowd on the floor despite looking at the back of the performers. Howard's kit was on a rotating platform and Bellamy made use of the upper platform that lined the rear of the stage. The video screens played a major role in the performance and the four-sided pyramid gave the entire arena a similar view.
"Animals" began with a ticker-tape of stock quotes along the lower screens while a tycoon was projected along the upper screens. The song takes a stab at greed and wealth at the expense of the common man. The tempo increased though the song, conveying a feeling of loss of control, while the imagery of the tycoon became frenetic. The stock ticker pace increased with with the music as the quotes spiraled into negative territory as his world came crashing down at the song's climactic finish.
Performing a little shy of two hours yielded just over twenty songs on the night. Songs ranged from the unearthly "Knights of Cydonia" to the gentler "Explorers." The latter featured Bellamy on a grand piano. High energy returned as "Follow Me" resonated the arena, complete with tooth-rattling bass lines and eye piercing lasers while Bellamy buckled to his knees several times to deliver his voice to the farthest reaches of venue.
Other cool video effects showed a spinning roulette wheel with various song titles in the numbered slots. The ball dropped with Vegas style sound effects as it landed on "Stockholm Syndrom" to fan's cheers before the song commenced. The inverted video pyramid slowly transformed during the song, ending as an upright pyramid that enveloped the drum platform and the performers on the stage floor by the end of the song.
"The 2nd Law: Isolated System" segued into massive hit "Uprising" and the arena floor became a mass of jumping bodies. Afterward, the arena went black to a deafening roar as fans screamed for more. They returned for a two-song encore of "Starlight" before the motivational "Survival" capped the night.
The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
Supermassive Black Hole
Knights of Cydonia
Time Is Running Out
The 2nd Law: Isolated System