Muse: Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ Resistance

Jesse J Sutherland

The hip-hop and the singer-songwriters and the indie-pop are all very nice but, when it comes down to a show, give me a goddamn rock n’ roll band every time. At Life Is Beautiful, Muse more than filled the bill, powering through a two-hour set that still seemed short.

Muse always go big, with massive video screens, booming sound and a set of guitar-powered tunes that get people on their feet, from the swooning romanticism of “Starlight” to the sultry, stripper-pole grind of “Supermassive Black Hole.” The trio also paid homage to their rock n’ roll predecessors with a tasty chunk of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” worked into “Hysteria” and a cover of the Cramps’ “New Kind of Kick”—one of the great three-chord swaggers of all time. But Muse can also serve a theatrical grandiosity that borders on prog-rock, as in their epic, closing “Knights of Cydonia,” which opened with an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western riff before kicking into a sort of desert synth epic.

Vocalist/guitarist Matt Bellamy’s operatic vocals means singing along to Muse in an exercise in atonality for 99 percent of us, but the chorus of the band’s anthem, “Uprising,” is the one bit that’s written in the people’s range. And the message of “They will not force/They will stop degrading us/They will not control us/We will be victorious” is one that seems even more timely eight years after it was written. Being in a crowd of thousands, all chanting those words and pumping our fists in the air was the kind of communal moment that brings us to concerts and sticks in our minds afterwards. And no one can deliver it like a goddamn rock n’ roll band.

Photos by Jesse J Sutherland