By ALYSSA HOLCOMB
A band able to combine impeccable musicality and exceptional visuals in a unique way is a rare find. British rockers Muse are as rare as they come, and their show at the Tampa Bay Times Forum was just that unique.
The band is touring off of their latest album “The 2nd Law,” and the track list was prevalent throughout the band’s hour and 45 minute set. Opening with “Supremacy,” the trio was shrouded in a stunning pyramid of HD video screens, showcasing the band, the audience, and special effects throughout each song. There were mini-cameras that hovered around the stage, more than occasionally peering out into the audience to film. During “Madness,” singer Matt Bellamy even took hold of the camera to give the arena a peer into his electronic glasses that were screening the lyric video for the song as he sang.
Highlights of the night included “Panic Station,” which gave the room a rollicking, more soulful beat to get into, and “Supermassive Black Hole,” where bassist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howards synced a ridiculous rhythm that kept the crowd on its feet. Adding another cool tech level, the screens, at one point, turned into a roulette wheel, spinning and dropping the ball onto lower screens displaying various song titles. It was a really interesting way to continue the set, especially since the night’s pick went to older track “New Born.”
Another unique (and refreshing) bit about the band is their persistence during the set. Chatter in-between songs was kept to a minimum, but when there was chit chat, it was short and sweet. (At one point, Bellamy quipped about area news: “I heard you have no water. Those bloody squirrels!”) Continuing the local appeal, Bellamy wailed on a guitar solo version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before launching into crowd favorite “Hysteria.”
Closing the set, “Uprising” brought massive momentum, with the screens lowering over the band to form a pyramid. The encore brought back the threesome playing “Starlight” and “Survival” to end the night. The former was a complete crowd-pleaser prompting an arena-wide sing-along.
The electric vibe that Muse provided on-stage was one shared with the audience through song after song, riff after riff, into a space-age continuum where the only focus was the music. I have rarely seen a show with so much unforced talent – it further solidified Muse as one of my favorite all-around acts.