Muse at Staples Center

I passed on Muse at Glasto to see Nick Lowe, a snippet of the Pet Shop Boys and Midlake.

I knew they’d be in So Cal and figured that I had tome to see them here if I decided it was a good idea.  Frankly, with a few exceptions of songs most of their CD’s I’d listened to had left me cold.  I just couldn’t really get into them.  I wavered and passed on the Thursday night show in Anaheim.  But, on Friday I read a rave review in the local paper.  He compared them to U-2, Radiohead, Coldplay, Pearl Jam and Green Day amongst others….wow.  Everyone seems to rave about them.  He basically said this is the last time you’ll see them short of a stadium.  Quite a hard sell.  He even compared the opener “Passion Pit” to Hot Chip, La Roux and Phoenix.

So…with that in my head, I popped onto Ticketmaster and up pops a really great single seat…

So, I pull the trigger and buy a ticket for Saturday night at Staples (a venue that I really dislike as well).

I arrive a bit early, but all the restaurants are jammed.  So, I opt for a concession stand pizza and diet soda.

Passion Pit hits the stage at 7:30pm…by 7:51pm I am completely tired of his “minnie mouse” voice and their bland offering….sadly for me the set lasted another 21 minutes….

Sorry, but having just seen Hot Chip, La Roux AND Phoenix at Glasto I have to say…I’d prefer any of those three to this group.  They were nice and humble sounding when they talked, but sort of like Owl City in the same bland way.  Actually, I’d prefer Owl City and their lightweight electro-pop fare to these guys.  Sorry, I’m sure you are good ernest kids…but I hope that they all finish the college degree as a fallback option….

Muse, Muse, Muse….

What can I say?….

I was amazingly disappointed after all the build up.  First there was a video display of escher like guys climbing stairs endlessly on the large LCD rigs above the stage.  After a bit of that they opened the show with a massive display of ego.  Literally placing themselves on pedestals above the stage and also doing a kubuki drop….(Very 80’s Def Leppard guys, but not that well executed.)  Of course, “Not that well executed” was a major theme for me in regards to their show.  They had a lot of cool toys and underused and misused most of them.  Aside from the kubuk drop, they had lasers (ELO used them much better back in 1978! on the Big Night tour), stage elevators (ditto with ELO in 1978), LCD walls/curtains….(seen much better stuff from Tom Petty, Green Day and numerous others), Video content itself…(Rush, Green Day set the bar here).  Even the wardrobe was derivitive!  Matt Belamy had a stage costume ripped almost directly off from Chris Issac.

I compared them (unfavorably) to Rush who I saw last month.  Both are power trios, both try for epic songs and both live very much on their stage reputations.  Rush had some awesome video content, great lighting and some cool tricks with the lighting rig, a sense of humor, terrific musicianship…the whole package.  Muse seemed to be missing each of those elements.

Notice that I haven’t mentioned U2 yet?  The review that I had read compared them very favorably…and I don’t see it.  Technically U2 created shows on the last few tours that were above and beyond anything anyone else is doing.

Muse is not doing that, they are just hashing up a bunch of half-baked stuff that others have done better…which leads me to their actual music…

Here are some of my exact notes:

3rd song…Dick Dale riff…

Supermassive Black Hole…Tom Morello riff and solo…

Hendrix Star Spangled Banner intro…Led Zep riffs on the outro…

Direct Queen rip off….

Mix of Queen and U-2 riffs on this one…

Cover of “House of the Rising Sun”

This one sounds like Dazed and Confused dropped onto a Judas Priest song…

Hey, why not some Iron Maiden riffs on this one before we’re done….

Now, for example when I’ve seen Green Day they did an awesome set of covers that paid an obvious homage to those who’d come before and influenced them.  Beatles, Stones, Who, Otis Knight…it was a great stew of songs and done with style and humor.  Muse on the other hand “borrowed” all those riffs  but delivered them in a pompous and self important manner that I found very off-putting.

Guys…I saw Queen in their prime and you’re not them, nor Zep, nor the Who and while I never saw Hendrix…I’d have to say you guys are barely another version of Frank Marino and Mahogny Rush (See Frank could play a mean Hendrix riff too).

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the folks around me were all thrilled and digging the whole show.  They were also mostly kids who I doubt have been exposed to the giants these guys are standing on the shoulders of.

I tried to sum it up to Julie when I got home and this was what I came up with….

Lets say you have a talking horse.  That’s an amazing thing and people will come from miles to look at, and hear him talk.  But, after a while a talking horse will have the novelty wear off, then he’s just another voice talking; and you hope he will have something interesting to say.  I never found that core of anything interesting to say buried anywhere in this show.  So, I was just left with a talking horse, interesting for a minute…but not worth my time once the novelty wears off and I can tell that there’s really nothing there of any lasting importance.

Thousands of Muse fans I’m sure disagree with me, but I’d suggest a they dig a little deeper and listen to some Hendrix, see a U2 show…Or watch a video of Queen in the late 70’s.  I’d do any of those before I’d head back to a Muse show.

Looks like I made a good choice at Glastonbury to skip them, and a bad one to second guess myself and waste an evening on them here in So Cal.



Filed under Other concerts

2 responses to “Muse at Staples Center

  1. Laura

    Wow… bummer! Sorry that you can never get that time back. I think I know what you mean. There was a time, in my half century of listening to music, that everything I heard on the radio sounded the same, just the names were changed to protect the guilty. I referred to it as the hot air popcorn period. They even all started to look alike. I blamed it on A&R people or other record label staff who are responsible for honing images. Think Boy Band era. That’s about when I crawled into a hole, pulled the cover over the top and dug out my classic rock albums. It took me a long time to even peek out again. A band by the name of Linkin Park actually got me far enough out of the hole to listen to a couple of new albums. Heck Jon I wish we lived closer. I need a new music mentor and I’m really learning a lot through this blog. I envison you and I listening to different bands and comparing notes on how they sound, but mostly I think I’d just listen to you because you’re haute gourmet and I’m still drive through. LOL! Great post!

    • You’re too kind…thank you…:)

      I gave up on radio for music a long time ago. When I lived in San Diego 10 years ago there was one decent station. I have an iPod with 24,000 songs on it and I just hit shuffle everyday when I head to work. The only thing radio in LA is good for (barely) is news and traffic.

      It would be cool to have someone to compare notes with around here.

      I made a decision a number of years ago that I would keep an open mind and try to seek out new good stuff. That’s how I found Ozomatli, Derek Trucks, Robert Randolph and a ton of other good young bands. I figure the more open minded I am the more likely I’ll be to hear cool stuff before it breaks out. But, I can’t stand the processed “Boy band” stuff you mention. I’m looking for an emotional core in the music. Well crafted pop is fine, but even that can have an awesome bite and doesn’t have to be fluff. Bowling for Soup, The Fountains of Wayne, Paul Heaton and Nick Lowe for example all write brilliant pop songs. They are just clever and well thought out in addition to having great hooks.

      Heck, I even have cuts by Jay Z, the Streets and Brother Ali on my ipod…who’d have ever thought that I’d even find some rap/hip hop that I enjoyed?

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much!

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