Last Spring I found myself at the Meadowlands just outside of New York City watching the curtain go up on Muse’s amazing rock show and contemplating (musing over?) the path that had led me there.
The concert-buddy standing next to me was a friend I would never have met were it not for the internet making the world a smaller place and drawing together people of similar interests. To say nothing of the people in my life who care for me enough to encourage me to try new things and meet new people. Having joined the online fan club of a somewhat obscure European band I’d become hopelessly addicted to, I quickly discovered that they had a number of pretty awesome people who were fellow fans like myself. Some of them were local to where I lived.
So last year I went from being one of those people who would never dream of meeting up with folks they’d met online to someone who was intensely grateful for having done so. This is something I would still in general advise people to do with extreme caution, but under the right circumstances it can open up a world of wonderful new experiences.
Having discovered a shared passion for music and a number of other common interests I hadn’t even been expecting, I suddenly found myself with a fun and enthusiastic concert-going companion once again. Ted’s aversion to crowded spaces makes him a poor choice for concerts and most of my friends (and me too, if I’m being honest) had years ago been dissuaded by the skyrocketing cost of live shows. After all, long gone are the days of seeing Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and Poison at the Spectrum for twenty bucks a show.
I had almost, almost let myself forget how much I adored live concerts: the energy, the interaction of performers and listeners, the magic of sound and light and lyricism coming together to vibrate inside my chest and make my heart beat in a rhythm shared with a whole sea of people brought together only by the unifying fact of being all in love with the same thing. An expensive pastime, but to me – totally magical, and totally worth it.
The night of the Muse show was one of those cool and yet intensely humid spring evenings, simultaneously flattening and frizzing my freshly dyed hair and combining with some lingering winter bronchitis to leave my body unsure of whether to shiver or sweat. In general, it was opting for both. I had a touch of fever that night too, a fact which I hid from everyone to keep them from discouraging me from going to my show. Unable to find a concert t-shirt that fit correctly over both my size 18 shoulders and size 24 hips, I had done my usual and opted for a men’s XXXL. It fit me, as they generally do, like an extremely large, shapeless dress made from t-shirt material that sloughed off my shoulders and left the hemline lingering around mid-thigh. I looked and felt somewhat ridiculous.
I was also ridiculously happy.
Muse played every song I knew and loved, which for me is nearly every song they have. A generous helping from their exquisite new album as well as every song that had made me love them in the first place. Despite never being a song I had favored before, the live number I enjoyed and remember the most vividly was Follow Me, because the way the laser display interacted with the music on that particular song wove an incredible effect within the stadium that I found both enthralling and hypnotic. Now, whenever I hear that song, I’m right back there again beside my friend watching the lights play with the music over the heads of thousands of people.
The nice thing about being halfway up the side of the stadium is that it’s the perfect viewpoint to see the full interaction of the light show like an electrified carpet spread out in front of you. The tech that Muse employs in their show is pretty amazing. They have a ziggurat made from high definition projection screens that can fold down to cover the stage area and then lift and invert to hover above the performers.
The crowd was good, but more low key than I expected of being so near New York. We were only four days out from the bombings in Boston so that may have been keeping everyone’s energy level on the low side. For me personally, I couldn’t yell the way I usually do because each time I tried I set off a fairly explosive coughing fit.
Despite being an English band, Muse played us a beautiful rendition of our Star Spangled Banner. I have no idea if it’s a normal part of their concert lineup or was a specific show of support since we, as a country, were still hurting at the time.
Muse is a band that’s big enough to pack a stadium but their fans are chilled enough that the lead singer can wander through the rows down on the floor and say hello to people up close and personal without fear of pandemonium breaking out.
My sole complaint about the performance was the guitar that got stabbed through the front of a bass drum in an uninhibited fit of rock n’ roll enthusiasm. I have such love and respect for the skill that goes into the creation of musical instruments that I can never appreciate seeing them carelessly destroyed regardless of my level of concert high.
I absolutely recommend seeing Muse live if you ever have the opportunity to do so. They are impeccable experts at their craft, masterful artists and highly skilled entertainers. They reminded me once again that a stadium filled with fans, lights, and sound so rich and full that I can feel it within me is one of my favorite, most happy places to be.
Note: The video I linked is footage of the actual show I attended, but it's overlaid with audio from the album version of the song. Unfortunately live audio recorded at concerts always comes out garbled. They did a nice job synching the audio and video though, so it's still pretty mind-blowing.