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n the realm of live music, there are those who focus on their musical performance, those who concentrate on their visual performance, and those who manage to beautifully sync the two for one killer concert. Muse successfully delivered the latter for their Saturday (10/9) evening headlining gig on day two of the Austin City Limits Festival.

The English alt-rockers brought an energizing set, which began with the anthemic "Uprising," from last year's chart-topping release, "The Resistance." The massive throng of followers numbering in the tens of thousands threw their fists up for the action-inspiring number, particularly when frontman Matthew Bellamy belted out the memorable chorus line, "We will be victorious!" Bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard added punch to the song with their perfect timing and heart-pumping instrumentation.

Dressed provocatively in a sequined suit and bright blue shades, Bellamy kept the energy going with "Supermassive Black Hole," one of the band's most popular singles from 2006's "Black Holes & Revelations."

Before any non-Muse fan could get bored, the band broke out the green laser lights, which flew over the crowd in time with the music for several songs, including "Undisclosed Desires."

Enormous screens behind the stage served as visual reminders of the band's often politically and socially aware lyrics, occasionally flashing black and white images of lab mice and words such as "subordination" and "mind" between shots of the band members performing.

Bellamy then showed a softer side to his musician persona, moving from guitar to piano for a couple of songs, including a touching, albeit short, rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." He also strummed out an instrumental snippet of the American anthem, which drew a number of lighters to the sky.

In all, the trio made the most of their second ACL appearance, turning newbies into devoted fans with the set's final song, "Knights of Cydonia." It's hard to avoid falling in love with Muse with powerful, anti-establishment lines like "No one's going to take me alive" finishing out a true rock show.




Although Austin City Limits 2010 boasts popular headliners such as Phish, the Strokes and M.I.A., this is clearly Muse's weekend. The highly energetic, dramatic British rock band brought all their laser goodness to Zilker Park's masses. There were fist pumps. There were heads banged. And in a moment of solidarity -- or brutal honesty -- Muse lead singer Matthew Bellamy said, "This is my favorite American state."


Earlier this year, Muse showed up at SXSW to play an intimate club gig at Stubbs, but playing in front of this many fans had to be one of the more rewarding moments of their already massively successful 2010 U.S. tour.


Muse has pretty much become the British equivalent of Kings of Leon in terms of drawing fans across the Atlantic, and their ACL set seemed to relish in their American success. As a possible nod to Jimi Hendrix's famous Woodstock performance of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' Bellamy riffed for nearly two minutes on the national anthem before the band launched into a heavy version of 'Hysteria.' Moments later, they also took on the famous folk ballad 'House of the Rising Sun,' sounding a bit like a warped version of what the Animals did back in 1964. For a moment, you got the sense that they were going to tackle the whole thing, vocals and all, but alas opted for 'Time is Running Out.'


Beside those little nuggets, Muse played a set that resembled what they've been doing on their 'Resistance' tour, opening with 'Uprising' and working in 'Undisclosed Desires' and 'MK Ultra' alongside older favorites like 'Stockholm Syndrome' and 'Map of the Problematique.'


Muse's is set to headline the Voodoo Festival later this month in New Orleans. Leading up to this final U.S. gig, they're hitting the East Coast for more arena shows before concluding in Australia this December.



The most anticipated concert of the night began and ended with a single explanation: powerful. Muse opened with their epic rock anthem “Uprising” from their most recent release The Resistance, which set the tone for the rest of the space rock band’s performance. During the first song, it almost felt like we were at a war rally.


With each powerful word that Matthew Bellamy sang into the microphone, festivalgoers raised their fists into the air in agreement during their spectacular laser light show -- one that rivaled DeadMau5’s, who had performed right before the band on a nearby stage.




Throughout the colossal concert, Bellamy played guitar solos that were reminiscent of Eddie Van Halen’s incredible finger tapping. They paid tribute to other rock gods like Led Zeppelin in between songs by transitioning into tracks with guitar riffs from “Heartbreaker” as well as the main riff from The Animals' “House of the Rising Sun” -- which turned into an audience sing-a-long. During one memorable moment, Bellamy soloed the National Anthem. Jimi Hendrix would have been proud.


For Muse’s encore, bassist Christopher Wolstenholme played an ominous harmonica solo that was taken from the introduction of Ennio Morricone's "The Man With the Harmonica" from Once Upon a Time in the West; a fitting introduction to the band’s western-influenced “Knights Of Cydonia” since the harmonic solo is from an Italian western film. The solo transitioned into the track seamlessly and when the song was over, fans were left with a feeling of awe: They had just seen one of the last few remaining rock bands that can sell out an arena and act as the main draw of a giant music festival.

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I wanted so very badly for Muse at ACL to be a reprise of Coachella. Don’t get me wrong, it was great. They’re amazing. One of the best touring live acts on the planet. All that jazz. Maybe it’s that there is always special about your first time. I didn’t know what I was in store for going into their Coachella set. I may have built them up to an impossible standard for ACL. They still had lasers. Oh boy do they have lasers. And Matthew Bellamy. He’s worth mentioning too. They have him. Let’s break it down.

Bellamy took the stage in a suit that appeared to have been made of tin foil. The shiny stuff. None of that matte-finish non-stick biznass. Paired with LED sunglasses, Bellamy looked the part of the rock superstar front man that he has become. Maybe he always was. I just didn’t know until Coachella. Muse fans are a dedicated folk. They belt the lyrics to every single song and jump up and down with each new song.

Songs from the The Resistance were prevalent. So were all the teases. Off the top of my head, I can remember Bellamy teasing at least four songs on his guitar. The even band played along once the crowd sang the first verse of “House of the Rising Sun.” It took on a life of its own. The “Star Spangled Banner” a la Jimi proves they know their roots. Zack also recalls Led Zeppelin and I know we also heard “Power to Love.”

Muse left the stage at the end of their set, and Zack asked me what they hadn’t played yet. I thought he was joking. How do you not know that Muse would encore with ‘Knights of Cedonia.” Huge pillars of smoke blasted into the air at the songs grand finale. It was a great send off to a too-short visit to Austin for ACL 2010.




Where The Strokes and M.I.A. missed and Phish came up just a little short, Muse offered the first home-run of a closing set on Saturday night: The British trio, sometimes bolstered by a fourth on piano, scored on every point M.I.A. missed, its massive bombast sounding crystal clear and its driving anthems hitting home.


Muse, the band appeared intent to prove, is not one thing, but many: a hit-making machine; a band with ridiculous mass appeal; a band that steals influence from a barrage of reference points; a band that pays proper homage to rock's past; and a band that doesn't mind playing the role of crowd-pleaser.


"This is our favorite state," the Brits told this Texas crowd, before later aping Hendrix and performing three-quarters of our national anthem.


There were other teases: Between songs, vocalist and guitarist Matthew Bellamy would tease the audience with classic rock riffs, eventually scoring gold when the audience picked up on the melody of The Animals' "The House of the Rising Sun" and, unprovoked, played collective vocalist.


The band, before offering a two-song encore, also seemed out to prove that it isn't just some bad for fan girls and boy geeked out on its role in the Twilight series, playing songs that sounded more metal- and blues-heavy than those with radio-only awareness of the band could have expected. Of course, those radio hits made their mark--"Resistance," "Uprising" "Time Is Running Out" and "Supermassive Black Hole" especially--and the ecstatic crowd all-too-willingly made its appreciation known.


Muse writes music as if it's sound-tracking the most dramatic, Hollywood-scripted, post-governmental revolution ever imagined. On this night, the good guys won.

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Here's another review:




It’s a pretty big honor for a band to headline the ACL Fest twice - even if it is by accident. After the White Stripes cancelled in 2007 and the English alternative rock trio were bumped up to the top spot, they proved themselves adept headliners, with a massive, spectacle-laden rock explosion that seemed to be timed just right - this was just as “Knights of Cydonia” was in its highest circulation on the radio.


But were they so good they deserved another headlining slot three years later? If the shirtless guy next to me jumping a solid foot into the air and screaming “Yeah!” every two seconds is any indication - and come on, this is a rock festival, so of course it’s an indication - the answer is yes.


The intervening three years have seen Muse build itself an ever-larger, and exceedingly devoted, fan base - which equaled a clearly engaged, enthusiastic audience which greeted each radio single with rapturous applause and filled in the vocals on a brief instrumental cover of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.” The energy was at a feverish pitch right from the start, when Matthew Bellamy walked on stage and launched into “Uprising,” backed by the best light show the touring market can buy. From that first note on, Muse, stadium rockers in the truest sense of the words, unraveled its spiraling, epic jams over a barrage of lasers, lights and projections for an hour and a half. Although Bellamy’s vocals were at times a bit quiet, Muse proved itself an ideal festival headliner - with tight musicianship and a nearly obscene level of spectacle to match.


It’s a little astonishing to know that Muse consists of only four live players, because the band sounded impressively expansive on rockers like “MK Ultra” - named for a covert CIA program centered on mind control and one of many signs of the band’s fascination with paranoid subject matter (to say little of the news footage and Orwellian imagery that popped up at times on the projection screen). But in all the axe-grinding and spectacle there were bits of tenderness on display - Bellamy’s piano interlude “Niche” and Muse’s surprisingly sensitive take on classic “Feeling Good,” an Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse tune that’s been sung by everybody from Nina Simone to Kat Edmonson.


Bellamy broke out the keytar for “Undisclosed Desires” and a double-necked guitar for the bombast of “Resistance.” Although it may have been Bellamy’s right-hand man, bassist Christopher Wolstenhome, who busted out one of the most impressive feats of the night, a thematically perfect harmonica intro to final song “Knights of Cydonia.”


Although there’s few 10-minute solos on display in Muse’s songs, you can see bits of progressive rock creeping in here and there - the epic feel, the focus on world-building within the lyrics and, of course, the very dedicated audience. Mix that in with a whole lot of spectacle, and you have a pretty solid show. At least the shirtless guy next to me seemed happy, and who am I to argue with him?



And of course, no review roundup would be complete without a condescending holier-than-thou mini-review from Rolling Stone:


Muse, the over-the-top English art-rock band who broke big in the U.S. in recent years, closed out the evening. The trio combine lots of old ideas — pained, Nineties-Radiohead-style crooning; Queen-y theatrics; paranoid sci-fi lyrics — with brutal proficiency. The crowd ate up the shredding guitar solos, the swooning choruses, and the (admittedly cool) laser-light show, not to the mention the version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that guitarist Matthew Bellamy played, Hendrix-style, in the middle of the show. It was a Big Rock finale for a day where many of the best performances came from gypsy-punks and disco acts (Kinky, the dance-rock band from Mexico, were also very solid).


Edit 2: And one more -


Meanwhile, at the other end of the park, Muse laid on the “land of confusion” imagery just as heavily—though, keeping in line with the band’s bombastic pomp-rock, its presentation hewed toward more straightforward shots of Orwellian rallies and sexy robots. The band’s Matt Bellamy was already set to rock stadiums when he was still playing the second stage of The Cure’s Curiosa tour in 2004, and he met Muse’s ascendence to festival-headliner status with a never-ending parade of over-the-top accouterments, taking the stage wearing a mirror-ball-skin suit and glow-in-the-dark shutter shades, while his arsenal of ludicrous instruments included a neon-bordered keytar and a grand piano with a clear top. Lest it appear the band was above any grandiose rock-star gesture, it punctuated quiet-loud-LOUD anthems like “Our Time Is Running Out” and “Starlight” with guitar-lesson staples like “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” and The Animals’ version of “House Of The Rising Sun.” At one point, Bellamy informed the crowd that Texas is the band’s “favorite American state,” a fact that the band’s “everything’s bigger” approach makes abundantly clear.
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HAnd of course, no review roundup would be complete without a condescending holier-than-thou mini-review from Rolling Stone


Well, at least this time around they actually condescended to write a full paragraph about Muse headlining. Rather than, oh yeah and some band called Muse tried really hard to make up for The White Stripes :rolleyes:

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