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March 4, 2010

Concert review: Muse at 1st Mariner Arena

matthew bellamy of museFrom the first notes of the fist-pumping protest anthem "Uprising," Muse set the dial at 10, where it stayed for the rest of the 100-minute show.

The British power trio has a sound tailor made for arenas such as 1st Mariner, where they played last night. It was a night of colossal riffage and manic special effects, from frantic laser lights to disturbing videos.

"Rise up and take the power back it's time the / fat cats had a heart attack we have to / unify and watch our flag ascend, so come on," lead singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy (pictured) sang.

Did he mean it? With his turquoise pants, sparkly silver shoes and Kanye West glasses, it was hard to tell.

After the show, more people probably watched the Maryland-Duke game or grabbed a snack from McDonald's than rose up to overthrow the fat cats. I'll bet most folks came to rawk, and rawk they did ...

Bellamy filled the arena with feedback and aching falsetto, and occasionally conjured flurries of distorted notes. Bassist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard held down the driving rhythms, reminiscent of '90s alt-rock (before all those pesky emo bands went mainstream).

The show, which started at 8:50 p.m. and ended at about 10:30 p.m., had several tunes from their latest album, "The Resistance" but also spanned Muse's past few albums, with songs like "Starlight," "Super Massive Black Hole," and "Hysteria"

The staging was quite the sight: The band members stood on three tall pillars, which rose and retracted, depending on the song. They'd stand on the stage for a couple songs, and then the columns would come up from the floor and lift them 20 feet above the audience. I've never seen anything quite like it; someone clearly put a ton of time and effort into its design.

The columns also displayed video on their sides, and some of that video was freakish -- hundreds of giant black and white eyeballs, blinking at us, and, at one point, faceless naked bodies (parts and all) spinning around. Yeah.

While a few of Muse's songs were bookended with short instrumental jams, Muse kept the set tight, taking only short pauses between songs. If they had played much longer, the show might have grown monotonous. As it was, they hit Baltimore with a heavy dose of melodic, metallic rock 'n' roll.

(Photos of Muse performing in January at the Big Day Out 2010 Music Festival by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:28 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

Comments

SUCH a good show!!!!!!! I'm still upbeat from it.
Thanks for the review!

At Elliot's pour house...Pint Night with Flying Dog Baltimore Brewery. Raging Bitch, Garde Dog & In-Heat Wheat will be available. First pint $4, everyone after is half price & you get to keep the pint glass. Troegs Nugget Nectar now also on tap.

I was there...it was a good show. I wish they would have played more from Absolution, but that was a couple albums ago. Silversun Pickups were good as well. As much as I want the city to build a new arena, it still lends itself well to concerts this size.

Sounds like it was gimmicky with all the staging and lighting they added. Also, only an hour and 40 minutes? I got invited, but am glad i didnt go, way too short of a show . Also, whenever a band has to use lots of pretty lights and videos and staging, they are clearly trying to distract you from their music, which makes me think its not that good live.

Just my 2 cents

The only negative was (again) the poor acoustics at 1st Mariner. We were in the back corner on the 200 level and it wasn't good. However, they did make up for it with a great show. And that is the best stage/lighting I've seen in a LONG time. I think they out-u2'ed U2.

Turn the dial to 11! My sister went to the show and said it was a rocker.

Show was great. 1st Marnier is a dump but luckily we were on the floor only 30 yds from stage so sound was still pretty good. Don't forget the giant balloon eyeballs filled with confetti that would explode as they bounced around the crowd. Pretty cool.

The show was great. Muse is known for being a great live act and I was not disappointed. I would have liked for them to play longer, but at the same time they just play. They don't waste their time talking.

>>>Posted by: scott Sounds like it was gimmicky with all the staging and lighting they added. .... Also, whenever a band has to use lots of pretty lights and videos and staging, they are clearly trying to distract you from their music, which makes me think its not that good live.

The lights only enhance the experience. They are hailed as one of the best live performers in the world. Most would say they sound better live than on their albums. I absolutely agree.

>>>Also, only an hour and 40 minutes?

That's an hour and 40 minutes of just Muse. Not too many bands play longer. Silversun Pickups opened. The entire show was a little over 3 hours.

Sorry Scott but you missed one of hell of a concert! Even if you are not a Muse fan (like my girlfriend) you would have had a great time. She had been mocking the band for a while but came out of the show with a completely different view.

I made it to the show and I thought it was phenomenal. They sounded tight and I thought the sound was fine for Muse. I can't really say the same thing for Silver Sun Pickups. Whoever was working the sound didn't crank it up until their last song, "Lazy Eye".
I don't think Muse really needs to do much in the ways of lighting or staging, but what they did come up with was impressive. They definitely rocked the house and I thought the sound was great on the floor. We walked up before SSP started and ended up about 20 yards from the stage.

To "Sean" who is glad he didn't go to the concert. You have NO idea what you missed!! And if you think Muse needs gimmicks to sell their stuff, you are WRONG WRONG WRONG, and obviously don't know this band, or its music at all. They put on a live extravagansza because they actually give a crap about their audience's visual experience IN ADDITION to their listening experience. I supposed it's best we didn't have you there!

>>Posted by: Sean
>>... whenever a band has to use lots of pretty lights and videos and staging, they are clearly trying to distract you from their music <<

Definitely not the case with Muse. Their philosophy as a band is to go all out, balls to the wall, with everything. It's only natural they'd want the visual aspects of their show to try and keep up with their huge sound.

Amazing show. Great choice of closing song with "Knights of Cydonia".

@Sean:

like U2, Radiohead, NIN? yeah... their music is nothing without the pretty lights...

Take it easy on Sean, guys. Scott was the one that was glad he didn't go.

And I've seen them open with "Knights of Cydonia" and close with it. It's such a great song that it doesn't matter when they play it. I'm just happy that they play it.

No wonder nobody goes to MD. No appreciation for real musicians. Worst review ever by the way. Quite embarrassing for the so called writer.

I wish they had played 'Invincible" the finger tapping guitar solo with foot pedal while singing always blows my mind! But I was most surprisingly impressed with their new song "undisclosed desires' the video is pretty tight too. When he pulled out that custom made keytar, ohh shit. And the whole time I was like, where's the piano, and then the baby grand was magically wheeled on stage. They are over the top in the best way, because they're as impressive to watch when you're right up front as well as for when you're in the last seat. True performers know the difference. Keep in mind, they're a trio. Yeah, they got that fourth guy hiding near the drum set, but everyone has that guy when they start playing arena's. So much sound is coming from just three people. The bassist didn't just hold it down, he freakin drives the whole song, even just from a sonic standpoint. matt belamy is a better guitarist, singer, songwriter, and performer than any single other artist is at one of those, let alone in combination.

Shankman, you left out "pianist" when describing Matt Belamy.

And "Invincible" would've been a nice addition to the set list. I'm a big fan of the song "Assassin" as well and that was left off the Baltimore set list.

I agree with the poster who denigrated the Sun review. "if they played longer it would have been boring?" And you were there? Times really are tough in the newspaper business.

MUSE is an amazing band who unleases an incredible amount of energy on stage. Those of us that were there were lucky to see a seminal, future Hall of Fame band at their creative peak.

Stephenhorton, I hope, for Muse's sake, they're not really at their creative peak. If that's true, it's all downhill from here.

Riss, thanks for the feedback. Have a blessed day!

Well this review is [almost, but not quite, amazing. hee hee]. Of course any review with a photo attached thats NOT from the concert itself...well this writer should be doing something else with his life. Muse is a band I've been trying to see for some time. And was I not disappointed in the least. Its why even if they're albums aren't winning awards, they win Best Live Band EVERY year they're on tour. I felt bad for SSP who got pushed all the way to the front of the stage with no lighting and minimal acoustics.

Excellent show! I love that they kept the show going, with no long breaks. My only complaint is that they didn't play a single song from Showbiz. I'm a big fan of their first 3 albums

Muse is in my opinion the best live band in this decade (seen them 2 times at the Resistance-Tour, looking forward to the third time in Bern :-)). With their energy, passion and their musical genius, particularly of mastermind Matt Bellamy, they draged along the whole audience. The larger the hall, the better the show, because it's a show working better in big halls and stadiums with their huge stage and the impressive light effects.
Two songs I missed in Baltimore: "Invincible" with it's amazing guitar solo and "Map of the Problematique", one of my favs.
The sound could have been better, and the audience around me in Block 211 sat the whole time on their seats for whatever reason, but that wasn't Muse's fault.
Guys, keep on rockin :-)

This article proves the reason why Muse was not as popular here. It's people who really don't know and appreciate real music probably due to radio and MTV etc... Get to know the band before you decide to jump the bandwagon.

I was in section 211 around row G and was standing the entire time, but I agree that there were a lot of people sitting. I could have sworn that I also looked across the arena and saw a bunch of people in the lower level sitting and I just don't get that. Especially when the show is so great. I feel like I have noticed that a lot in Baltimore vs. DC. It was still the best concert I've been too.

what show is that PHOTO from (not from the arena)?

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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