To the thousands of New Yorkers packed into Madison Square Garden last night (Aug. 6) -- plus those who'd flown in just for evening -- the only band that mattered was Muse. Some might hesitate to proclaim the British trio anything but Radiohead knock-offs, but there's no denying they put on one incredibly Bombastic Rock Show. California's Cold War Kids started things off admirably, and though it was "Hang Me Up to Dry" that got the biggest response from the arriving crowd, their overall tight and energetic set, which included an Elvis Perkins appearance, made believers out of hype skeptics. However, there was no question whose night it truly was by the time a curious JFK quote about secrecy and covert operations preceded Muse's entrance. If it was meant to add an inflated importance to the proceedings, it worked, though it's not like help was needed -- the histrionic wail of "No one's gonna take me alive" soon filled every corner not already bathed in Technicolor brilliance.
Songs drew heavily from 2003's Absolution and their latest, 2006's Black Holes & Revelations, yet it hardly mattered what was played so long as the dramatic swells of emotion remained continuous. Elfish frontman Matt Bellamy valiantly transfixed the crowd, switching between serious guitar freak-outs and high-pitched piano balladry, amid a hypnotic light show extravaganza to spur epileptic seizures. Nothing was spared: light-up piano, videos, and giant confetti-filled balloons, pillars of smoke. Electric excess built into shameless displays of crashing percussion and exploding Guitar Hero theatrics, and whether for "Supermassive Black Hole," "Butterflies and Hurricanes," "Invincible," or the deafening sing-along of "Time is Running Out," the crowd loved Muse simply for existing -- in all their overwhelming, overdramatic, and awe-inspiring grandeur.
We asked: Black holes are sometimes associated with the idea of time travel. If you could travel to any point in time, where would it be?