The lights dimmed around 8:20pm, an orchestral intro commenced, and red spotlights began flashing around the multi-level stage, as Muse officially kicked off the first of their three-night stint in Los Angeles on Wednesday night (Jan. 23) at the Staples Center. Fans cheered as Chris Wolstenhole stepped forward, clutching a bass with a neon green-lit fretboard. Frontman Matt Bellamy, drummer Dominic Howard, and touring keyboardist Morgan Nicholls, quickly joined him. Following a dubstep jam intro, Muse transitioned into several tracks off their latest release, “The 2nd Law.”
Bellamy walked to the front of the stage, stepped onto a mini platform, and performed a distorted guitar version of the “Star Spangled Banner,” serving as the intro to “Hysteria.” The show continued with “Panic Station,” “Bliss,” and “Supermassive Black Hole,” which rallied a lifeless audience into a dancing frenzy. By “Animal,” the security was escorting troublemakers out of the floor’s general admission area. The set continued with fan favorites as well as additional tracks off “The 2nd Law,” including “Madness,” which Bellamy dedicated to his “love,” better known as Kate Hudson.
It should have been hard to outdo the elaborate stage show from Muse’s 2010 Resistance Tour – which fans are still talking about – but the English rock trio did not let fans down visually. Their stage setup was very much a large scale EDM endeavor: a circular rail surrounded a platform above the drum kit, which was enhanced by a perimeter of LED screens that also lined the front rim of the stage. Throughout the evening, laser light formations rained over the audience, and several songs into the set, a pyramid of television screens slid down from the ceiling, housing an array of captivating visuals.
Halfway through the night, a piano appeared on stage, which Bellamy utilized for a ballad, “Explorers.” He quickly made up for the mellow moment by engaging in a variety of diva-like antics – wrangling the crowd to wave their arms in unison, instructing people to clap along to songs, and strategically positioning video cameras to film himself – which aired a tad on the cheesy side. After “Stockholm Syndrome,” which ended with a riff on Rage Against The Machine’ “Freedom,” the television pyramid touched down on the stage and engulfed the band members. There was a bizarre five-minute waiting period where a video played across the screens while psychedelic music was emitted from inside the structure. Eventually, the band reappeared to close the set with “Isolated System” and “Uprising.”
After an encore of “Starlight” and “Survival,” the show ended around 10pm, which seemed a bit short, given the band’s extensive catalog. But Muse gave an energetic performance and showcased a grittier side than what can be heard on their well-polished albums – changing up song arrangements, playing heavier riffs and enhancing their tunes with a variety of effects.
The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
Hysteria (Star Spangled Banner intro)
Knights of Cydonia
Time is Running Out
Plug In Baby
Stockholm Syndrome (Rage Against The Machine “Freedom” outro)
The 2nd Law: Isolated system