Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Metric and Muse – a concert

(Well, the banner says "And rarely, music")

Mrs. Speculator and I actually made it to a concert last night. I got into Muse a little while ago, when they first released the single "Knights of Cydonia" and I bought Black Holes and Revelations, followed by Absolution and then The Resistance when it came out. For me, "Knights of Cydonia" was a fascinating pop take on prog rock and the more I listened, the more I found things to interest me. We were fortunate to see Muse open for U2 and felt like they did a great set, limited as they were for time as the opening act. So when they announced they were coming to our area, we got tickets as quickly as I could.

Opening for Muse was Metric, a band out of Canada that I had heard infrequently on satellite radio. I liked their single "Gold Guns Girls" but never got the urge to buy any of their music. Part of the appeal of that single is a cynical sensibility and awareness of just how over the top they could get. And yet it remained somehow restrained until it wasn't any more. Also interesting is the female lead singer, Emily Haines, who sounds waifish, again, until she isn't any more.

Their performance was eye-opening and a lot of fun. While they only performed seven songs, the four-piece band showed a wide range of influence, none so much as New Wave and even some punk; given the median age of the attendees, I wondered if a lot of kids there could identify New Wave or punk. The performance was vibrant and energetic, really warming up the crowd for the main act in what really felt like a throwback to the best bands of the late 70s and early 80s, somehow loud and intimate at the same time. There really wasn't a bad song in the set, and the audience was particularly enthusiastic about "Gold Guns Girls" and "Help I'm Alive."

Muse, however, just blew the doors off the arena. It was a raucous festival of huge pop anthems and a few ballads to settle the audience down before raising them up again. Lead singer and guitarist Matthew Bellamy has a distinctive voice that covers a wide range, both musically and emotionally. I had no idea, however, what a guitarist and showman he is. Hiding in the segues between songs was Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Brian May, and even some Weezer. And when a grand piano got pushed on stage, we also got some Elton John. But Mrs. Speculator said it best, the way Bellamy struts and preens and grabs his audience, it was if Freddie Mercury played guitar, down to the sparkly shoes and tight pink pants. And then you add a U2 level light show around them, and the result is a captivating mix of styles and genres, something I might describe as prog pop, and a whole lot of fun.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard are adequate, but they are often relegated to the background as the songs take off in Bellamy's hands. The band is unabashed about how their adrenalized hooks and sometimes stupid lyrics appeal to their audience viscerally, and the audience reaction clearly showed they didn't mind either.

We left the arena ears ringing and eyes aglow, staggered by the spectacle of what we had just seen and heard and convinced it was the best indoor concert we had ever seen.

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