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Concert Reviews:
Muse makes "Simulation" very real at Little Caesars Arena
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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DETROIT -- When it gets on stage, Muse likes to do things -- to coin the British trio's own term -- supermassive.



And that was certainly the case on Thursday night, April 4, at Little Caesars Arena.



With The District area exhaling following the Detroit Tigers' home opener earlier in the day, Muse continued its knack for one-upping itself with a two-hour spectacle that had echoes of predecessors (U2, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden, specifically). But it was every bit as inventive and theatrically captivating as any of the group's other tours -- and perhaps with more cohesive visual focus than its last outing, the somewhat scattered Drones World Tour four years ago.



While the concert drew thematic inspiration from the worlds of gaming and Virtual Reality, the emphasis was a bit more human on stage. This time out, Muse was abetted not only by regular touring adjunct Morgan Nicholls but also by a crew of dancers and aerialists that helped execute large-scale production numbers throughout the night. The scheme revealed itself from the start, as a corps of trombonists, in uniforms housing elaborately flashing lights, marched out to a mid-arena second stage where singer-guitarist Matt Bellamy appeared to begin the song. The troupe returned to the main stage for "Pressure," executing marching band choreography while Muse pounded through the track -- one of eight played from last year's "Simulation Theory" album.



The rest of the show's assault ranged from small (LED-lit eyewear) to large-scale, including lasers, showers of confetti and streamers, and a giant, robotic puppet that hovered over the stage during a somewhat messy encore medley of "Stockholm Syndrome," "Assassin," "Reapers," "The Handler" and "New Born." The dance crew scaled the giant video screen while Muse played "Break It To Me," brandished smoke-spewing guns during "Propaganda" and moved in zombie-like formation during "Thought Contagion." There was even ariel action even in the show's quietest moment, as Muse performed "Dig Down" in a stripped-down fashion on the B-stage.



The sensory overload only bolstered the music, however. With rare exceptions -- like "Dig Down" and the vibey "Madness" that followed -- Muse kept the pedal floored as it tore through both "Simulation Theory" songs and older material with a near-metallic energy. The group extended "Uprising" and teased into "Supermassive Black Hole" with musical references to the theme from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Even "Propaganda," the poppy Timbaland collaboration from "Simulation Theory," was muscled up for the stage, and early career tracks such as "Plug In Baby" and "Time Is Running Out" sounded fresh in the midst of this particular repertoire.



As "Knights of Cydonia" crashed to an end, Muse could declare itself "victorious" once again -- and leave the Little Caesars faithful wondering just what the group is going to come up with to top itself next time.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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