From the opening moments of Muse’s Wednesday night set at Rogers Arena, it was clear it wasn’t going to be any ordinary rock show.
The lowering of a massive inverted pyramid structure made of LED screens early in the set was one of the first indications that the audience was going to be in for a spectacle. What followed was a nearly two-hour set filled with stunning visuals, and an arena-worthy rock sound to go with it.
Opening with the dubstep-inspired sounds of “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” from the British trio’s 2012 album, the band was backed by flashing strobe lights, scrolling stock market numbers, and video clips. Fist pumping and cheers erupted across the floor when the band launched into a set mixed with tracks from most of its six-album discography.
At the centre of the spectacle was frontman Matt Bellamy. Whether he was perched at a grand piano that materialized out of the stage for ballads like “Explorers”, or strutting up to one of various microphones positioned across the sprawling stage, the singer didn’t have to offer up much in the way of interaction with the audience. His dramatic, falsetto vocals, accompanying everything from the Led Zeppelin-like guitar riff of “Supremacy” to the electronic instrumentation of “Madness", dominated the venue.
As the band rolled out favourites from previous records like “Supermassive Black Hole”, “Resistance”, and “Knights of Cydonia”, the visual show seemed to grow even more captivating.
Chris Wolstenholme’s bass was glowing, live video of the band was framed by images of vintage television sets, colourful geometric shapes flashed across the screens, an animated purple monster danced to the beat of “Panic Station”, and song lyrics were flashed across the front of the arena - even onto the LED screen sunglasses sported by Bellamy as he pointed his face close to one of the cameras.
The arena rock anthem set wasn’t short of its over-the-top moments, like Bellamy’s tendency to dive into a knee slide and lift his guitar into the air for a dramatic pose, or the drum riser that began spinning around with drummer Dom Howard and Bellamy on it, while Wolstenholme took his turn on lead vocals on new track “Liquid State”.
But the crowd seemed thrilled to be along for the ride, clapping in unison to newer tracks like "Follow Me", and singing along to older offerings like “Time Is Running Out”.
When Bellamy lifted the mike toward the crowd during one of the final encore numbers, “Starlight”, the pop single from the 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations, audience members belted out the chorus.
During the encore number “Uprising”, the LED pyramid was lowered onto the stage, flashing video images and colourful blue and red graphics. The whole structure lifted partway through the song to reveal Howard at his drumkit in a bright red jumpsuit.
The second encore ended in a suitably dramatic style, with the band offering its Olympic anthem “Survival” amid puffs of smoke, fist pumping, and a final guitar solo.
Despite the often over-the-top rock moments, the flawless live renditions of each song, the band’s energy, and the stunning visuals ensured the band lived up to its arena rock reputation.