Muse released their ninth LP, Will Of The People, last summer and have been touring steadily ever since. This past Friday, March 17th, the band brought their larger-than-life production to Madison Square Garden and shook one of the world’s most famous arenas down to its foundations. Spending the last 25 years creating apocalyptic concept albums and successfully translating them into extravagant arena shows, they’ve upped the pyrotechnics, explosive lighting, and interactive production to draw the audience even deeper into their universe. And tonight is yet another chance to lay waste to the landscape before them and create a spectacle that can not be missed.
Before the show, there was palpable anticipation buzzing throughout the arena, with seasoned fans adding another Muse show to their list, standing side-by-side with younger fans about to see their first. When the lights went off, and the trio walked out on stage, everybody in the Garden responded as one with thunderous ovations and chants of, “MUSE, MUSE, MUSE”. Wearing reflective metallic masks, the band tore straight into the title track, and the first song, off Will of the People. Flames in the shape of the title’s acronym hovered high above drummer Dominic Howard, ripping through the air in rhythm to the music. Such a fiery entrance, soundtracked by the heavy guitar riff of the song, set the tone for the night, which never let up for the next two hours.
Over the course of their career, the trio have delivered more and more experiments alongside their classic prog rock style, incorporating the likes of pulsing electronica, MIDI instrumentation, and even future disco into their latest releases. Will of the People served as no exception, turning back time with flares of 80s hair metal and 90s alternative radio rock, and by playing more than half of the record throughout their MSG setlist, they seamlessly blended the new epics with their long list of hits and fan favorites.
After such an explosive opening, bassist Chris Wolstenholme then slowly made his way down the catwalk at the center of the arena before dropping into the infectious bass line for “Hysteria”, taken from 2003’s Absolution. The groove sent the crowd into a frenzy, treating fans to a long-time favorite early on to keep the intensity high. Keeping it rolling with Drone’s standout “Psycho” before taking it back to 2001 and Origin of Symmetry– highlight “Bliss”. Then three more Will of the People tracks followed, solidifying the new record’s place in the live catalogue.
Frontman Matt Bellamy took a moment out of commanding the crowd to appreciate one special fan in particular. Standing front and center on the floor was Catherine, celebrating her 200th Muse show and sporting a big sign to prove it. Trying to think of the perfect song to dedicate to her and deciding on the hypnotic “Madness” from The 2nd Law, the crowd very much appreciated the irony, as 20,000 strong sang along in tribute to such a devoted fan.
“Time Is Running Out”, “Supermassive Black Hole”, and “Plug In Baby” served as further highlights, before the main set closed with one of the Muse’s biggest hits, “Starlight”. By now, the entire arena was completely covered in confetti, and the scent of freshly ignited pyrotechnics filled the air. Leaving the stage to deafening applause and the insatiable desire for just one more song, the band re-emerged for two, performing stunning renditions of “Kill or Be Killed” and “Knights of Cydonia” to close out the night.
For Muse to put on such a spectacle at Madison Square Garden is something that will be resonating with all who attended for quite some time. It’s one thing to hear great music live, but it’s another to see a band put on a show who have been perfecting their craft for more than 25 years. Every aspect of the concert was top-notch and perfectly executed, from the grand and overwhelming visual show to the incredibly tight performances of all three members of the band, no detail was overlooked. It was a perfect showcase for why Muse will always be one of the world’s greatest arena rock bands.
Muse played their last show in March this past Sunday in Philadelphia. The band takes a short break before kicking off April with a run of dates on the west coast. The band headlines Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival in May before heading across the Atlantic for a lengthy European tour throughout June and July. Head over to the band’s website for the full itinerary.
Check out idobi photographer Joseph Buscarello’s gallery from Madison Square Garden below.