Thursday, March 4, 2010

Muse @ Baltimore Arena

Am I a Muse fan? Kind of. I prefer the less theatrical Radiohead, of which Muse is endlessly compared. I think of Muse as a Radiohead-meets-Queen stadium band that is mostly good from a distance. Too much of the band at once wears me out. Singer Matt Bellamy's overtly political lyrics can grow tedious at times, and their operatic sound can get cumbersome. However in 2003, I was in love with the band's third album, Absolution, which satisfied my taste for computer space rock before I discovered the more subtle joys of Radiohead.

So when I saw that Muse would be coming to Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena along with Silversun Pickups on March 3rd, I decided to see them in person. Their style of loud-guitar driven rock would surely sound great live, and Silversun Pickups aren't a shabby opening act either. Plus I wanted to drag my friend Tim to a live show, since his live music experiences usually come from cover bands. It was time to show him what the real thing sounds like.

Silversun Pickups did a breeze forty minute opening set, featuring their better known hits like "Substitution" and "Lazy Eye". They played the fluffer role for the crowd nicely.

But everyone was here to see Muse. And they didn't disappoint.

They kicked off with the song "Uprising" from their newest album, The Resistance, and then segued right into the title track from the album. The band then cherry-picked songs from their last 4 albums, ranging from "Plug-in Baby" from 2001's Origin of Symmetry, "Hysteria" and "Stockholm Syndrome" from 2003's Absolution and "Starlight", "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Knights of Cydonia" from 2006's Black Holes and Revelations.

The stage design was impressive, featuring three "skyscraper" screens that featured video and images throughout the show. There were three small stages in the middle of each skyscraper where a member of the band stood, and they were able to be raised and lowered throughout the show. The laser show was worth the price of admission alone. Best. Lasers. Ever. And another cool stylistic wrinkle were huge eyeball beach balls that were dropped into the crowd. When popped, confetti exploded from them.

The band sounded great, and the sound at the 1st Mariner Arena still compares nicely to other large venues in the area. It's nice to see Baltimore getting some better shows that would usually go to Washington, DC or Philadelphia instead.

I caught the light rail at Nursery Road instead of driving into the city at rush hour and paying $20 for parking in a garage that is notorious for long back-ups after shows let out. Like the arena, the light rail is routinely criticized for not serving the city to its potential, but last night I was very pleased with the entire experience.

Muse rocked the house, and I went home to watch the Maryland/Duke basketball game that I had recorded. Maryland won.

All in all it was the perfect evening.

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