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Concert Experience

Robots, interaction and simulation: The Muse’s kick-off concert of “Simulation Theory” in Houston

March 31, 2019

"An endless build-up heading for one peak after another;" this characteristic was given by

Jon Pareles

to the Muse concert in Madison Square Garden in New York in 2013 when they were touring with "The 2nd Law".  Six years later Muse announced the return to the US within the world tour in support of their new album “Simulation Theory”. Media campaigns launched in the social media were sneaking some parts of the show, however still leaving the intrigue and high level of expectations titled “how they are gonna do it?”

On January 22


, 2019 the band takes off their tour with the concert in Houston, Texas. The full of people Toyota Center warmed up with rock and pop rhythms of "Walk the Moon", is in excited waiting for the Muse. Audience in the ground level pushes further to the stage and  occupies all the area around long black podium with glass pipes and cameras on the sides, while the tech people quickly rearrange the stage for the band that is known worldwide, considering the geography of their “Simulation Theory” tour - after the US Muse will have concerts in the biggest cities in Europe, then Singapore and Australia, returning through Mexico to finish in Rio.

The concert begins with the chords of the “Algorithm” - the single from the “Simulation Theory”, onstage appear Chris and Dom and the group of performers in tight dark “Hunger Games peacekeepers” alike suits with LED screen glasses with trumpets resembling the marching brass pattern in the song’s arrangements are proceeding to the podium and Matt begin singing the first verses ending with “we are caged in simulations” is not visible. Eventually, on the words - “This means war with your creator” Matt is elevated in the front of the podium surrounded by performers cheering him with trumpets while he holds the skull lightened with the intersection of lasers and almost sparkles it.

Pretty strong beginning.

But the show is going on and the band very energetically plays “Pressure,” which drums sections made the audience dance, scream and cheer in a variety of ways. Not giving the audience to catch a breath, “Break it to Me starts” from the very distinctive chords that are emphasized by four performers in bio-safety suits with portable lights in their hands hanged down from the top of the stage in front of the back screen, where their presence in “the simulation” emphasized with visuals of bio-hazardous beings.

Performers never actually step on the stage, the poisonousness of the environment they are immersed in finishes with the “Uprising.” This revolutionary anthem is one of the most loved songs from Muse’s fifth album “The Resistance.” Matt began singing for a camera that projected him on a big screen, leaning the mic to the camera He gave the voice to the audience – which as in a real revolution were shouting “they will not force us.”

Needless of any transition logically and musically, the distinctive chorus “p-p-p-propaganda" alongside five performers in tight black suits and LED glasses holding the steam machines run on the podium, framing the live premiere of “Propaganda” with sexual dancing. Contrasted with soft Matt’s falsetto on verses, the next multivocal chorus was emphasized with multiple steams, projected different fonts, languages and colors of the word “propaganda” on the back screen in English followed by hieroglyphs in Japanese or Chinese. The performance elaborated with every “propaganda” chorus and climaxed in the guitar bridge when the steams covered all the audience of the ground level around the podium and stage and lightened with yellow colors of the spotlights.

The audience squealed from amazement.

Following mix of songs from different albums “Plug In, Baby”, “Pray”, “The Dark Side” were lingering that uplifted feeling within the audience and ensued in Muse’s  “Supermassive Black Hole” without any additional effects, just visuals enhancing the band’s signature compositions, needless in effects especially when the audience sang all the verses and choruses altogether as one.

Next,  “Though contagion” also held the degree of the audience’s admiration and logically brought back utopian topics, followed by the musical interlude to the “Hysteria”, then performed “Unsustainable” from “The 2


Law” which resulted in a need to catch a breath. Acoustic gospel version of “Dig Down” was made by Muse on the front of the podium - Matt playing on keys, Chris on the acoustic guitar and Dom on drums were emphasized with a circle of columns of white spotlights created a feeling that the band is so close with the audience, like on the chamber concerts.

To continue close interaction with the audience, “Madness” was performed with the same trick as “Uprising” but on the main stage and the lyrics were projecting on his glasses while Chris was doing the famous sample move on the electric guitar for “m-m-m-ma-ma-madness”. With all that, the audience was gratefully singing and following Matt’s interaction of waving hands to the sides.

“Mercy”, “Time Is Running Out” followed by the energetic instrumental jam incorporating riffs from different songs and albums transitioned for the band’s next act.

Matt with a skull in his hand elevated onstage from underneath surrounded with lasers creating a circle like his is a hologram. “Take a Bow” enacted a Shakespearian scene of Matt singing directly to the skull the verses of "corrupt, you corrupt". The scene developed with Matt put a skull on a glass podium filled with smoke and posed with his hands expanded waiting for a bow from the audience to start his solo on a guitar. To highlight this gracious moment, canons blew up rain from the immense number of colored papers which lightened with ultraviolet were shining on top of everyone and everything and at some point, covered all audience with paper blizzard.

In this colorful insanity incorporating also a network of multiple lasers emanated from the sources located on top of the audience seated sectors, the “Starlight” was performed with Matt in a jacket with LED screen on his the back and on his glasses. The excitement was foregrounded by big transparent balls with glow sticks inside thrown to the audience. The balls would bounce in different parts of the ground level, and come onto the podium and bounced back by Matt.

While the audience was playing with balls, glow sticks that fell out of the broken balls were almost the only sources of light when the stage was in complete darkness in which began the first chords of album's alternative version of the “Algorithm”. The first spotlights focused attention on the awaited from trailers two mechanic robots with performers operating them on the sides of the stage. In the middle of the downstage, the specific device of simulations with Matt’s face reiterations.  Matt in a LED jacket playing on keys while performers in a translucent “raincoats’” on top of black tight suits appeared on the stage and took the long shiny sticks. Thir fight with the sticks between each other resulted in Matt unplugged the device and finished the ongoing cycle for everyone, who till this moment was “caged in simulations”.

Right after, the intense intro of “Stockholm Syndrome” voiced the horrifying scene where a huge skeleton was erecting onstage. This was the greatest surprise of the whole show. The last element from the trailers appeared onstage. The skeleton's head looked like robot helmet,  while were seen also muscles on top of mechanic joins. The skeleton was leaned on its left arm, while the stretched out right arm was trying to catch Matt. During the mix from the “Assassin”, “Reapers” and ”The Handler” the beast was showing readiness to chew and swallow Chris. On “New Born” the skull was opening what is supposed to be the mouth following the chorus’s lyrics, at some points, a huge spotlight was shining from the beast’s mouth.

The last song of the show was “Knights of Cydonia" where all the action onstage and in the audience merged together in the highest level of ecstasy that was followed with a long round of applause, screams, and laughs of satisfaction of everybody, the musicians and audience.

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