It took years for Muse to shake off the Radiohead comparison. But, to this listener, it is a comparison that fit about as comfortably as Kristen Stewart in her Academy Awards gown. Grandiose and charming, blistering and beautiful, tight and playful (playful enough to add Led Zeppelin riffs to the end of their songs), there was hardly any evidence of Thom Yorke and crew at Madison Square Garden. It was all Muse, and their top-notch performance, on display.
Most of the new record, The Resistance, was offered up, and the fans loved it — ”Uprising” to “Unnatural Selection.” Matthew Bellamy commanded the stage like a true frontman, his guitar leading him through most notes. The rhythm section (bassist Christ Wolstenholme and drummer Don Howard) was solid, as usual, while the mysterious fourth member of the band perfectly filled in the synth-accents; finding himself tucked away, behind one of the three flashy columns of vertical light.
Bellamy carried his fantastic voice while securing up guitar and piano duty, excitedly running the gamut of the roomy stage from mic to mic, at every opportunity, giving the multi-musicianship of Geddy Lee a run for his money.
Yet, the nicest surprise of the night was “New Born” (off of the brilliant Origin of Symmetry), possibly one of Muse’s finest songs. It is a song already so intense on studio album, but live it appeared to have a louder, more distorted, intensity.
By the time “Knights of Cydonia” echoed its shouts of “No one’s gonna take me alive/time has come to make things right” for the final encore, there came the realization that there was no lull, no time to sneak a bathroom break or grab a beer, throughout the entire concert. It was a rock show worth watching from beginning to end.