Monday, March 18, 2013

Muse at the Mandalay Bay Events Center


I've always had good luck seeing Muse in Las Vegas. My first Las Vegas Muse show was during the Absolution tour at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel. The show was phenomenal as I lucked into a choice spot in the balcony dead center watching them destroy. My second encounter was during the sorely missed Vegoose Festival in 2007 that featured Dominic Howard dressed up in a Spiderman suit. More recently was their towering showing at the Mandalay Bay Events center in 2010. I couldn't let my Muse Las Vegas streak die as the coincidental booking of Muse on St. Patrick's day seemed like fate.


I was extremely lucky to photograph Muse at the beginning of the tour documenting the first night at Staples Center as well as the third night. Las Vegas happened to be the final stop of this leg of the tour and the first indication that this would be a special night were the multiple fliers posting that the show was being filmed. Immediately, I was thrown for a loop when "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" started to play and the gigantic pyramid of LCD screens encapsulated Howard's drum kit. The previous shows that I shot had Muse start with "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable".


Wielding his custom Manson seven string guitar, Matt Bellamy tore into the metal tinged riff of "Supremacy". Instantly, I could tell Bellamy was on fire as his playing was razor sharp and his rock star poses made it difficult to not to stop photographing him shredding. One could sense the electricity in the air when they started "Map of the Problematique" as Howard's drum kit started to rotate enabling everyone in the arena to get a good perspective at his hard-driving style.


My suspicions of Bellamy's heightened excitement were confirmed during "Supermassive Black Hole" as he ran across the stage for a huge power slide before ripping into a guitar solo.  Muse have always put on amazing shows back when they didn't have massive screens and production. Seeing them now is  an all out assault on your senses with lasers, LCD screens that form a pyramid and pyrotechnics. "Panic Station" shook the arena driven by Christopher Wolstenholme's deeply grooved bass lines.


Bellamy headed down to the catwalk during "Follow Me" to lead the crowd in a clapping along before returning to the piano for "United States of Eurasia". Wolstenholme took over the spotlight and vocal duties for a ripping version of "Liquid State". Muse kept upping the collective ante all night as "Madness" had Wolstenholme playing a his hybrid of a bass, keytar and a Korg chaos pad for the buttery bass notes while Bellamy enchanted the crowd with his electronic sunglasses that concurrently flashed the lyrics to song in his lenses.


"Time Is Running Out" sounded as powerful as ever and served as a smooth transition to Howard commanding a stand up drum kit for "Undisclosed Desires". It was fitting to see a roulette wheel spin showing the song titles of "New Born" and "Stockholm Syndrome". The scorching riff of "Stockholm Syndrome" blows me away every time and when combined with Wolstenholme's gigantic rumbling bass your head just rattles with sound. Bellamy gave a nod of approval to Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine by summoning up the riff of "Freedom" to close out the song.


Closing out the main set was the nuclear blast of "Uprising" that escalated with Bellamy smashing his custom Manson guitar and tossing it into the crowd for possibly the most expensive souvenir I've ever witnessed to be dispensed at a concert. The chants for encore subsided as "Starlight" made sure everyone in the arena was on their feet. "Survival" put the punctuation mark on the evening as jets of fire were synched with the closing drum beats. One can actually hope that this show will be released in the future as it definitely was one of their more memorable performances.


Muse setlist at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas (3/17/13)
01 "Supremacy"
02 "Map of the Problematique"
03 "Supermassive Black Hole"
04 "Resistance"
05 "Panic Station"
06 "Knights of Cydonia"
07 "Monty Jam"
08 "Explorers"
09 "Follow Me"
10 "United States of Eurasia"
11 "Liquid State"
12 "Madness"
13 "Time Is Running Out"
14 "Undisclosed Desires"
15 "Stockholm Syndrome"
16 "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable"
17 "Uprising"
18 "Starlight"
19 "Survival"

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