U2 and their the 360 Tour management deserve lots of credit in this case. Muse sounded home-stereo-clear and made liberal use of the giant videoscreen attached to U2's 'spaceship.' In fact, Muse sounded even better than U2 because Bono's vocals were distorted throughout the entire evening.
The only other time Muse hit Tampa they played eight songs over 45 minutes in an opening slot, never hitting any material written before their U.S. breakthrough Absolution. U2 alotted Muse the same timeframe and Muse drew from their last three albums evenly, again eschewing their first two records.
[image-1]After "Uprising" they hit a couple of poppy Black Holes & Revelations tracks and rocked out with "Hysteria." They returned to new material with "Undisclosed Desires," the sexy-yet-somewhat-boring likely next single with synthesized strings that borrow heavily from Depeche Mode's "Strangelove" (I gotta believe someone's working on a mash-up somewhere).
The riffy "Unnatural Selection" followed, and is likely the longtime Muse fan's strongest connection between the new album and the band he fell in love with; probably because it sounds like a cross between "The Small Print" and "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist" off Absolution.
Matt Bellamy is a brilliant songwriter and creates emotive guitar solos for the band's recorded output, however his live playing sometimes falls short of guitar god status. Not all solos are created equal, and Bellamy missed rather than hit during the lengthy "Unnatural Selection" and the shorter solos towards the end of set-closer "Time Is Running Out."
The U2 crowd's "Hey, I know this song!" moment came during the soaring, midtempo "Starlight," prompting the most dancing and singing along during their whole set.
There aren't many relevant, working bands that that can capably fill a stadium stage and soundsystem. U2 wisely picked a more-than-capable opening act in Muse, making the biggest concert to hit Tampa in years an even more memorable experience. As for Muse, they haven't headlined a concert in Florida since 2005, and never in Tampa. Maybe it's time for that to change.
Before judging their latest album The Resistance too harshly, I wanted to hear how Muse's poppiest, most ambitious album to date would sound in person. The Devon, England quartet (lately touring with a fourth member so Matt Bellamy can focus on guitar and vocals and not worry about keyboards anymore) wasted no time launching into the bass-driven protest anthem and current single "Uprising." (VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP)
Whenever I like an opening band more than a headliner, I worry about several factors. How long will they play? Will the sound be mixed decently? At an arena or stadium show will there be video screens? In other words, would U2 share their toys with the other children?
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