Photos by Angelo Marchini
Before last night it had been 12 years since I had seen British band Muse. They were supporting their fourth album and North American breakthrough, Black Holes and Revelations, out at Arrow Hall. This was following a head turning slot at the previous year’s Virgin Festival that turned me on to the trio.
Now touring behind their 8th album, Simulation Theory, released toward the end of last year, the three piece plus some touring extras, brought a relatively stripped down production to a packed Scotiabank Arena.
Albums 5 to 7 kind of lost me but I was immediately impressed with Simulation Theory, a solid and underrated/overlooked album, so that along with word of their epic stage productions on previous tours, made me look forward to the night’s proceedings.
Opening with “Algorithm” and “Pressure” from the new album, the band took the stage along with 10 or so brightly lit up dancers, making use of a runway that connected the main stage with a smaller platform in the middle of the floor that would be used periodically through the night.
Over the course of over 100 minutes, the band would touch on almost all of their albums in their discography, with the most emphasis on the new album and a healthy dose of Black Holes and Revelations. Highlights were many including “Plug In Baby”, “Supermassive Black Hole”, and “Hysteria”.
Even the new material translated well with the masses attending, and they happily helped out on the acoustic “Dig Down” which saw the three on the smaller platform. Frontman Matt Bellamy’s guitar I couldn’t hear during a bombastic “Propaganda” although it would be fixed for the solo, but other highlights from the most recent album included “Thought Contagion” and “The Dark Side”.
Other than the muted guitar on “Propaganda”, the sound filled the arena just nicely and complimented with a light show that wasn’t obnoxious but just the right amount of stimulus for an arena show.
For the home stretch, Muse doled out a pair of Black Holes and Revelations highlight; the urgent “Take a Bow” that just continually built in intensity until its climatic finale, and a crowd assisted “Starlight” brought the main 90 minute set to an end.
They returned for an encore and closed the night out with “Knights of Cydonia” from Black Holes and Revelations.
So in twelve years, the crowds have got bigger but the songs remain mega. The only surprise was Bellamy losing his guitar for the tracks he did, although he was backed up by an auxiliary member – probably to have a more intimate connection with the crowd. But consistently these guys deliver big bang for the dollar with high-octane songs accompanied by some high-octane visuals. Long may they roam.