Concert Reviews

Muse Battled Technical Issues and a Late, Late Start at Troubled Dallas Show

American Airlines Center, Dallas
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Due to "technical logistic problems" between the Houston date and last night's date in Dallas, the Muse show at American Airlines Center started late on Wednesday. Very late, actually. But that didn't stop the AAC from being mostly filled as the British band took the stage at 10:40 p.m. 

Tour opener Phantogram didn't even play. It was just 100 minutes of Muse on this night, and the crowd seemed tuckered out from all the waiting. Doors were originally scheduled to open at 6, but with a road crew working feverishly on no sleep, the start time kept being delayed. (Doors finally opened a little before 9.)

When Muse took the stage — a stage that bridged two levels — fans rejoiced that the show was actually happening. Kicking off with "Psycho," "Reapers" and "Dead Inside" from this year's Drones, Matt Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard (joined by longtime touring keyboardist and guitarist Morgan Nicholls) sounded bold and precise. Bellamy channelled Freddie Mercury and Eddie Van Halen with his stage presence, which has always been his bit. He can hit insanely high notes while playing intricate guitar lines, and he's a gifted pianist, too. He's certainly the star of the band, but Wolstenholme and Howard are also essential.

Wolstenholme, who turned 37 yesterday, did what he's always done well in the band: be more than a simple bass player. Not only is he a great backing vocalist, his bass parts fill up the gaps in Bellamy's leads. Howard remains rock solid, never too flashy or too basic. They even did a duet in the middle of the set, during the instrumental dubbed "Munich Jam." 
As for their choice of songs, they understandably went for more songs from their past 10 years. The Muse you see now is a band accustomed to playing stadiums and arenas all over the world, not just in their home country. It has been many years since they were a band name-checked as an influence by other artists like Dream Theater and Thursday. Nothing from their debut, Showbiz, was played, but they touched on every album since that one. "Citizen Erased" and their version of "Feeling Good" were the oldest songs from their extensive back catalog represented. They drew from their commercial breakthrough, Absolution, as well as Black Holes & Revelations.

The Drones material had hit-and-miss responses from the audience, which was more into songs like "Supermassive Black Hole," "Starlight" and "Madness." As Bellamy and Wolstenholme sang Orwellian songs about love and resistance, the sound felt rooted in classic rock, metal and pop but with a science fiction feel.

The lights dazzled and the pre-recorded videos looked great on screens above and along the stage throughout the set, and confetti came out at the end. The band didn't technically do an encore, as they simply left the stage while "Drones" faded out on the PA. Quickly returning, they did "Mercy" and "Knights of Cydonia." Finally ending the night a little before 12:30, people were happy, but exhausted and ready to get home. But, hey, that was probably the best possible outcome given all the technical issues leading up to it. 

Set list:
"Dead Inside"
"Citizen Erased"
"The 2nd Law: Isolated System"
"The Handler"
"Supermassive Black Hole"
"Feeling Good"
"Undisclosed Desires"
"Time Is Running Out"
"The Globalist"
"Knights of Cydonia" 
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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs

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