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Road Reports

Who: Muse
Where: RBC Center, Raleigh, NC.
When: 10.26.10


Definition: The source of an artist's inspiration or an English Rock band from Devon, England?

After seeing MUSE perform live October 26 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC, this critic has to say, "well they have managed to be both and then some".

Vocalist/guitarist Matt Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer Dom Howard proved in just under an hour and a half that there is such a thing as a musical Shangri-La where a band can evoke a British version of Queensryche's thought provoking lyrics, add in the Cirque de Soleil KISS stage show and pull it all off with the talent and finesse of Queen.

Fresh off a triumphant spring North American tour and headlining appearance at Coachella, British rock trio Muse brought their autumn headlining trek to North Carolina Tuesday night in support of their fifth studio album The Resistance, which earned Muse their highest-ever debut on the Billboard album chart when it bowed at No. 3. *

* Muse's previous album, 2006's gold Black Holes and Revelations, which garnered many a new fan, and an expanded following due to their association with Twilight peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard album chart.

The Resistance was produced by Muse and mixed by famed audio engineer Mark 'Spike' Stent and released in September 2009. Notable for not only its music but also as the first Muse album to have been produced by the band itself and upon its release, it topped the album charts in 19 countries.

While climbing the charts, Muse has become representational for their lively and extravagant performances, (aided by the live dvd release of HAARP)and the trio's perfectionism on stage is well known and astonishing in its attention to detail. However, MUSE has clocked in just under 1000 gigs in 47 countries, which begs the question-- at this point in their career when it comes to performing live would they phone it in or pull out all of the stops?

If Wednesday night's performance is any indication, MUSE is a band that you cannot only count on to sonically and visually deliver on the promise of a mind-boggling and staggeringly creative show, but they will make you wish you could see them again and again and again. Like any good rock band, they appeared at the moment when the crowd had reached a pitch of expectation and exited just a little too soon, ensuring the fans were left wanting more.

However, walking into the RBC Center, first impressions belied what was to come.

Before the lights went down the stage was covered in three skyscraper printed curtains...diminutive and certainly no indication of what was about to be unleashed upon the crowd of 10,000. The anxious crowd was finally given an signal that the hour long wait was sure to be worth it...The skyscrapers started filling up with surreal lighting and magically "windows" appeared; this coupled with images of men walking up and down lighted "stairs" started illuminating the stage and the crowd's faces. As the curtains (skyscrapers) dropped, the fans were exposed to the trio suspended on 50+ feet hydraulic risers that had them beaming down upon the stage. Beginning with "Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 1: Overture" and quickly moving into "Resistance" the bigger than life stage set up was startling in its exquisiteness.

The crowd didn't have to wait long for one of the band's most recognizable hits, song 4 heralded in the seminal release in their arsenal: "Supermassive Black Hole" (SMBH)which took the crowd to a fevered pitch as the band was lowered to the stage. Following SMBH, MUSE dipped into their extensive repertoire and played "Hysteria", (Star-Spangled Banner), "Unnatural Selection", "Nishe", "United States Of Eurasia", "Ruled by Secrecy", "Helsinki Jam", "Undisclosed Desires" and "Starlight". With five songs in the first set from The Resistance cd, the crowd was either "introduced" to the latest release or "reacquainted" and the diehard fans were rewarded with a spot on performance of "Time Is Running Out" (from Absolution, 2003)and "Plug In Baby" (from Origin of Symmetry, 2001) before the band moved into a "trifecta" of an encore which included a remarkable performance of "Uprising" (from The Resistance), "Stockholm Syndrome" (from Absolution, 2003) and "Take A Bow" from (Black Holes and Revolutions, 2006).

Whether it was multi colored strobes, videos, or lighted skyscrapers, every song was complimented by a dazzling and spectacular visual effect.

Eyeball imprinted giant balloons filled the center, confetti exploded, and pyros shot through the air and still in an ecstatic throng, the crowd heard a thank you and "cheers" from Dom Howard as the band quietly left the stage.

The sonic boom was the music as neither Bellamy nor Wolstenholme or Howard engaged in small talk...when you're making a statement as big as MUSE does, there's no need to chatter.

As the lights came up, there was a slight hush, a reverence if you will for a multi million dollar stage show complimented by a billion dollar performance.

It became clear that MUSE is not an act, a band or a is an event.

Bellamy's vocals were spot on, easily demonstrating his range that moves from falsetto to soprano (with a vibrato) and back again. His musicianship was also highlighted as he switched seamlessly from lead guitar to piano to keytair. Howard and Wolstenholme were deep in the pocket giving a syncopated drum and bass solo forty minutes into the set that was as visually entertaining as it was flawless.

Muse's fearsome live reputation is well known and it helped secure them the O2 Silver Clef Award in London on July 2, 2010 and sent 10,000 fans transfixed into the stormy Raleigh night. Appropriately enough, the award was presented by Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen. Taylor described the Warner-signed trio as "probably the greatest live act in the world today," while May said that "this is a magnificent, incredible group".

Judging by the show October 26, May and Taylor are spot on.

Kim Thore- 5 stars

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