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Review: Muse at JPJ


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A year ago, after seeing them for the second time, this critic told Daily Progress readers that Muse was “the best opening act in rock ’n’ roll right now.” Right then, of course, was when the prog-punk-glam trio from Teignmouth, England, warmed up for a little-known group of Dublin upstarts named U2. Some 55 weeks later Muse is flying under its own flag, and anyone familiar with song titles such as “Resistance” or “The United States of Eurasia” knows that that flag is a battle banner, a true fist in the air for falsetto fans.


“It’s good to see you again,” lead singer/guitarist Matthew Bellamy told the crowd at the John Paul Jones Arena on Wednesday, and the feeling was mutual. Bellamy and bassist Christopher Wolstenholme carved lines in the sands with their strings, and the internal combustion engine that is drummer Dominic Howard drove all over them, spewing fun fury like chucks of beach. Is there a sound out there more contagious and seductive, more able to blend thumping bass with tinkling piano into melodies so kinetic they could light power grids? Perhaps not.


Half an hour with these guys is enough to convince the most jaded of concert-atheists that rock gods might exist once more, but before the deification continues, an ugly truth must be acknowledged: Muse’s most recent album is its weakest and this, the Resistance Tour, has its strongest moments in older tracks. “Uprising” is a fine song indeed, but the Orwellian overlords it paints with “paranoia” and “PR transmissions” are too vague to have real bite. Put it just a couple of numbers away from 2001’s “New Born” and the difference is clear: the latter could be Queen covering Rage Against the Machine. “Soulless is everywhere,” Bellamy sings. “Destroy the spineless / show me what’s real.”


What’s real is the energy this Charlottesville crowd felt, jumping and stomping to classics such as “Stockholm Syndrome” while purple smoke billowed and strobes flashed. Plenty of bands like green scatter lasers, but few stalk amongst the lights with as much confidence. Plenty of groups have fun giving their audience big balloons to play with, but these weirdos made theirs giant lidless eyeballs. “Let hope burn in your eyes,” this cruncher of a tune goes as Bellamy plays a guitar line so sharp you could shave with it. “This is the last time I’ll abandon you.”


They may have played plenty of new stuff, but at least Muse spared Wednesday’s crowd the embarrassing self-parody of a single they wrote for the latest “Twilight” soundtrack. “I was searching, you were on a mission / and our hearts combined like a neutron star collision”? Come on, boys, you simply have to try harder than that.


Here’s an irony: the John Paul Jones Arena, while hosting a band that sings about control and fighting for rights, deeply and unpleasantly overstepped its bounds on security. Sure, metal detectors if you absolutely must, but having every single man and woman who entered the facility empty their pockets and accept a full-body pat-down is inexcusable. Hands off, JPJ. This isn’t a date, or, if it is, not with you. Muse is a draw, but Central Virginia can and will easily find some place less invasive to spend its time.


It would be hard, though, not to follow this triumvirate wherever it goes. Their imagery is usually celestial and intergalactic, but what they really sound like is the war band of some primal ancient tribe, and so many who hear them wish to take up the arms. The next album is all-important here -- if its quality is a stellar as its language, Muse will justly be remembered as one of the greatest bands of their time. If it fails, they’ll be “almost were”s who put on spectacularly thrilling live shows.


In the meantime though they have masterpieces like the soaring “Plug In Baby,” the epic guitar typhoon “Knights of Cydonia” and “Starlight,” one of the most beautiful songs to grace the radio in years and years. “Let’s conspire to re-ignite all the souls that would die just feel alive,” Bellamy sang in Charlottesville for the second time, and surely some were revived. “I just wanted to hold you in my arms…” Muse, please come back soon.

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:LOL: I love that they mention the security....



I too hope that next time muse comes to VA they don't go to JPJ Arena... I say do the Patriot Center again for a NoVa gig, then play somewhere in the Norfolk area if they want to do a second VA gig :yesey: (and no, i'm not just saying that cuz i'm from there ;))

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[ the internal combustion engine that is drummer Dominic Howard drove all over them, spewing fun fury like chucks of beach.





“Let hope burn in your eyes,” this cruncher of a tune goes as Bellamy plays a guitar line so sharp you could shave with it.


I do like the reviewer's turn of phrase!


Dead-on review.

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