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British rock band Muse puts on otherworldly show at Mohegan Sun

By Rick Koster

Publication: theday.com

Published April 14. 2013 2:00PM   Updated April 14. 2013 2:33PM

I don’t want anyone out there to regard this as traitorous, but if Kim Jong Un is serious about getting some functioning nukes, he should hire the technical design and implementation squad used by the British rock band Muse.

The spooky little kook would rule the world!

Yes, as any of the nearly 10,000 folks crammed into the Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday night can attest, Muse put on a wonderfully suffocating extravaganza that relied on the latest twists of time-honored rock histrionics: lasers, smoke, twirling drum kit, a descending giant pyramid — sometimes inverted, sometimes not — whose blocks morphed into a billion television screens. Then, more smoke and lasers and a relentless, brain-eating series of LED/video images flowing like those top-speed stock market tickers in Times Square.

Spending two hours with Muse, then, was the visual equivalent of hopping aboard the “Close Encounters” spaceship for quick-hit visits to at least five of the Seven Wonders of the World. This sort of presentational creativity took off in the ’70s with acts like Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, ELP and Genesis, through the era of U2, Peter Gabriel and then Coldplay — but by now is regarded as excessive and is mostly associated with pop/dance shows trotted out by Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Pink and those twins of septic musical idiocy, the Black-Eyed Peas and LMFAO.

The albums and songs of Muse, though, are hardly moronic. The title of their latest, “The 2nd Law,” is — chortle here if you will — a reference to thermodynamics. But by God, behind the lyrical invention and cloud-surfing tenor of vocalist/guitarist Matt Bellamy, they frequently pull it all off.

In fact, despite stretches on their albums that can be repetitive, the trio has made some of the most creative and dynamic rock in recent years. Theirs is a galloping, soaring and musically demanding style that, despite an obvious and patchwork assimilation of Bono, Radiohead, synth-happy New Wave and, most importantly, “Queen II,” (before Big Freddy ruined the band), is at once recognizable as Muse.

Not surprisingly, the band — besides Bellamy, the marvelous rhythm section of drummer Dominic Howard and bassist/vocalist Chris Wolstenholme, (and a sadly anonymous but significantly important touring keyboardist) — relied on songs from the new album. These included “The Second Law: Unsustainable,” “Panic Station,” “Supremacy,” “Animals,” “Follow Me,” “Liquid State,” “New Born” and an encore recitation of “Survival,” all delivered with simmering passion.

But Muse isn’t too “of-the-moment” that they’d ignore a rich catalog. As such, fans enjoyed “Knights of Cydonia,” “Supermassive Black Hole,” “Starlight,” “Feeling Good,” “Sunburn,” and the set-closing “Uprising.”

When it was all done and the hall was empty, it felt strange, quiet and two-dimensional now that Muse had returned us to earth.

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