Continuing their quest for the largest production in arena rock, Muse stormed through Arizona on Tuesday for their Simulation Theory World Tour.
Ohio rockers Walk the Moon owned the stage as the sole openers for the tour. With a scaled back stage setup to make room for Muse’s equipment, Nick Petricca, Kevin Ray, Eli Maiman and Sean Waugaman made Talking Stick Resort Arena feel like a much smaller club.
The band kicked things off with a pair of songs from their first album, before diving into newer material. They also debuted new single “Timebomb” as the room stood up to dance along. “Shut Up and Dance”, the band’s biggest hit, drew a wave of people shouting along as Petricca strutted his stuff. Proving that Walk the Moon is much more than their radio hits, the guys rocked out a huge jam session after the heavier “Headphones” before closing the night with their signature “Anna Sun”.
After a brief interlude, Muse blinded the audience with tiers of lasers and spotlights to open their massive set. A brass section took the stage in futuristic gear- helmets and neon clothing included- as singer Matt Bellamy rose from center stage for “Algorithm”. This robotic marching band remained for “Pressure”.
There’s simply no question that Muse is one of the greatest arena rock bands in modern music. The production gets wilder and more over the top with each journey, as the band’s catalog expands. Matt Bellamy put his impressive vocal power on display, backed by Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme keeping the set tight. Each member was highlighted throughout the show, with massive video screens enthralling the audience as the lasers and lights flashed.
Muse drew from their ever larger discography, with hits like “Uprising” and “Supermassive Black Hole” drawing screams and singing that almost drowned out the band several times. Dancers in neon masks surrounded Bellamy on more than one occasion, as his stage outfits got progressively flashier as the night went on.
With Simulation Theory, Muse took us on a journey to the future. They brought these sounds to life onstage, adding hyper-realistic visuals and timing guitar riffs with the artificial intelligence projections behind them. Everything from the instruments to the stage to Bellamy’s wild costumes lit up and danced to the beat of the songs.
The middle of the evening brought about a piano gospel version of “Dig Down” before the bombast of hit single “Madness”. The epic transition from “Time is Running Out” to “Houston Jam” had the arena on their feet.
Towards the end of the night, the band’s dancers controlled two robots (a la Spy Kids 3), programmed to the music. Suddenly, a massive animatronic inflatable robot rose from the stage, appearing to crawl from the depths of hell to accompany the end of Muse’s set. They closed the night with “Starlight” before returning for a much-demanded encore that included a five-song medley and the epic “Knights of Cydonia” conclusion.
While Muse might not be selling out these arena shows, their production combined with the band’s obvious talent just proves that this band will be shattering audience expectations for years to come.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel