Muse - Saku Arena, Tallinn, Estonia, 11.12.2012
Muse - Saku Arena, Tallinn, Estonia, 11.12.2012 by Ivor (24)
Sing me, O Muse, of the starlight traveling from the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, and of the hysteria because our time is running out.
On the other hand, O Muse, wait a minute while I start from the beginning of the evening, when two girls walked barefoot on the stage. The name was quite hard to read from the banners, but it seemed to be Deap Vally. And yeah - two girls. One would think that kind of band is a bit under-womanned, but that was definitely not the case. What followed was something between blues-rock and stoner rock. My first impression of two instruments being too weak for a band was wrong in so many ways - the girls were producing really heavy sound with scratchy vocals that conveyed deep "nobody knows the troubles I've seen" vibe. And of course who doesn't like to see two beautiful young girls rocking out. Especially when Julie Edwards was bouncing around to hit the drums. Enough said...
Lead vocalist Lindsey Troy revealed it was their second night of warming up for Muse. I can hypothesize that they were in Helsinki the day before, but three concerts before that were cancelled because Matthew Bellamy's foot was experiencing some deep Stockholm syndrome. To tell you the truth, I was rather worried that Tallinn's gig would be threatened by the aforementioned medical emergency. Fortunately, the worries were washed away when total red alert was declared on the stage and Muse blew the doubt away with "Unsustainable."
I'm not a big electronica fan, but Muse has managed to pull the whole affair off with flying colors on the new album, I'm surprised to say. With obvious influences from Korn and Skrillex. As they have said themselves about the new album: "We're not the full robot. We're kind of cyborgy." And another influence from the same source, I would say, comes in the form of typography - I'm talking about the videos playing on the stage screens accompanying the songs. I really love typography - two senses absorbing the same material at the same time is twice as effective. Especially for the younger generation supposedly suffering more and more from ADHD.
Also I am a big science fan and I have always admired Muse's love for complex ideas and how they have managed to put them into songs. The whole "Unsustainable" is based on the second law of thermodynamics and can you guess where the name of the latest album comes from? And if we dig a bit deeper into history - "Shrinking Universe," "Supermassive Black Hole," "Starlight," and the like. Respect!
Back on the stage my train of thought is derailed by supermassive über-impressive light show. With the next songs it became apparent that Mr. Bellamy's feet were fine as he ran around the stage while performing one of the most spectacular vocal performances I've ever seen on stage. Many bands have disappointed me vocally with their live show, but in this case I was almost beginning to suspect a recording playing in the background. I mean really, this guy actually sings the same way on the stage as on the studio recording.
And then we discovered that Matthew had learned some Estonian phrases - "Tere õhtust Tallinn" (good evening Tallinn) and "Tänan" (thank you). But other then that the guys were not very chatty. A big contrast with, for example, Steve Vai a couple of months back. But they definitely had more LED's on the guitars and hi-tech on stage. Man, I haven't even begun to describe the tech yet.
The stage was a half-bowl covered with screens, lights, lasers, an elevator to fetch the light-covered piano to the stage at the right time, and a big ass pyramid of screens that descended from the ceiling as a huge Cylon Basestar, all red and hostile during the "Supermassive Black Hole" (I had just watched some Battlestar Galactica, hence the connection). Later they revealed that the pyramid had five independent levels so it was changing the formation every other song and "landed" on the stage to cover the band during the first encore. An impressive set of stage-tech in action.
The bassman Christopher Wolstenholme sang background vocals on many occasions, but could demonstrate his ability on leading the "Liquid State" - one of two songs actually written by him and on the other hand NOT written by Matt on the new album. He also played the intro with the harmonica for the "Knights of Cydonia" and after threw the instrument to the crowd. In addition to Dominic Howard on drums there was also a mysterious fourth man in the shadows managing the keyboards, guitar, effects board and occasional xylophone, but I double-checked that Muse is still officially a three-man act.
The concert is a really good overview of how diverse this band really is. A headache for the classification geeks among us, who are convinced they should remove some genres and add some others to the Wikipedia entry about Muse. For example currently the list goes: alternative rock, new prog, space rock, symphonic rock, progressive metal. The new album probably will give a nasty twitch to the categorizers, the kind they felt last when trying to fit The Mars Volta or Estradasphere in some uniform box. After a whole week worth of fighting the guys declared "frak it" and the band was thrown in the last-resort "experimental" basket.
Again, off track, let's return to Muse. A bit of piano, xylophone and acoustic calmness that distracted me as not really what I was hoping to hear. Fortunately, the energy returned to the stage after some calm songs and by the time we were getting ready for an encore, the last full song of the main set was going to be a toss of the dice. Or to be more specific, a large roulette animation appeared with two values - "Stockholm Syndrome" and "New Born." When the ball eventually landed on the latter space, my only reaction was: "Gods damn it." "New Born" is not bad, but come on! "The Syndrome" is one of the main songs along with "Hysteria," which turned out to also not be on the setlist. I was rather pissed at the roulette. Obviously, I was not going to win a lottery today.
On the other hand a small piece of Deftones as the finale of the main set was a surprising piece of unexpectedness. Also, encore songs were pure awesomeness. The ending "Survival" brought out even bigger guns with massive bursts of smoke from the smoke machine "volcanoes". One might have hypothesized that as the fog descended on the front-center, it might have included a dose of relaxant, because people were really getting ready to explode with joy. Really, I was almost ready to forgive them not playing "Hysteria."
Muse really shines on the stage. Truly a live band with great energy that makes the roof go boom. Before I thought Muse was a good band with couple of good songs, but now I was pretty much sold and have been listening to a handpicked playlist of Muse almost exclusively after the concert. After all we got Muse for the first time in Estonia with two encores, great music, one of the greatest stage shows, and a hell of a recharge. I mean literally, some people were bouncing around like Energizer bunnies with smiles on their faces. And after all, isn't that pretty much what it's all about?
1. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
3. Map of the Problematique
4. Supermassive Black Hole
6. Panic Station
8. Monty Jam
10. Falling Down
11. Time Is Running Out
12. Liquid State
14. Follow Me
15. Undisclosed Desires
16. Plug In Baby
17. New Born
18. Deftones' Headup outro
19. The 2nd Law: Isolated System
21. Knights of Cydonia
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