Muse @ Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA (3/2/10)
March 03, 2010

New Born
Map of the Problematique
Supermassive Black Hole
Guiding Light
United States of Eurasia
Feeling Good
Helsinki Jam
Undisclosed Desires
Plug In Baby
Time Is Running Out
Unnatural Selection
Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 1 (Overture)
Stockholm Syndrome
Man w/ Harmonica
Knights of Cydonia

I'm not going to bring out the scorecard I wrote up a few months ago since they probably failed big time, but while the setlist wasn't nearly what I would've wanted it to be, this was my first time seeing Muse and it was easily the best show I've ever been to. Part of that was due to our general admission tickets; the entire floor of Wachovia Center was made into a standing section, and we got there early enough to secure a spot, maybe, twenty feet from the stage (about five rows back). Muse fans are known for being fanatical and the crowd at this show didn't disappoint. We started moshing during the very first song and the rest of the night was spent fist pumping, headbanging, jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics to every song as loud as we could. It was tight and sweaty as hell but completely worth it, and really improved the atmosphere of a show that would have been amazing anyway.

I was careful not to look up any of the setlists preceding this one (and I'm glad I did, because Fairfax's was identical, apparently) but I had a general idea of what to expect: All of the popular singles, one or two songs we might not have anticipated, and a slew of tracks from their new album, The Resistance. There were a few lesser known songs I would've wanted to hear (Citizen Erased, Bliss, Butterflies & Hurricanes, etc.), but they pretty much hit all of the big crowd-pleasers, which probably made it a more energetic show in the long run.

Surprisingly, they didn't play a single song from Showbiz, but I'm honestly okay with that. It's got some good songs, but very few (if any) actual showstoppers and nothing I was dying to hear. I only noticed long after the show that none of the Showbiz tracks made it, so I guess it didn't matter to me.

The real measure of a Muse song in a live setting is how much it gets the audience going, and in that regard, Plug In Baby and (to my surprise) Supermassive Black Hole were the clear winners there, with Time Is Running Out and Stockholm Syndrome getting honorable mention. I'd have expected Knights of Cydonia to level the place, and it almost did, but by then we were getting a little worn out. It seems better as an opener than a closer, a song to get people moving right out of the gate rather than to force one last massive rave just before Muse left the show for good. This was just the standing section, though; I'm guessing the people with seats could have gone on for ten more songs. Still, in retrospect, epic ending to the show.

I'd anticipated quite a few tracks from The Resistance, and I don't blame them for at least letting these songs run their course, but the crowd easily responded the least to these. It's difficult to say whether this is because they're still new songs or they're just not as good as Muse's older stuff, but I'm guessing the latter. Taking the stage with Uprising fit the edgy, almost sci-fi theme of the set, but it's not a knockout opener, and going straight into the cheesily-penned Resistance felt like a mistake. (They did Supermassive Black Hole second in many of their previous shows, which made more sense, since it was the first song to really get the crowd going.) Undisclosed Desires was the biggest crowd-sterilizer of the show, to my delight (because that song sucks and I want them to get the message); United States of Eurasia was definitely better in a live setting but still not good enough to be worth keeping for future tours; and I definitely wasn't expecting to hear Guiding Light, but the surprise doesn't make it a particularly great song or anything.

On the other hand, Unnatural Selection (one of the better, more old-school songs from The Resistance) was a smart choice to close the main act, and taking the stage again with Exogenesis was fucking awesome, especially since I'm glad they didn't waste their time playing all three parts. I should mention that the set was absolutely out of this world: Each band member had his own massive tower with giant LCD screens on each side, and each platform would rise and fall depending on the song. Namely, Matt and company would be raised for the more laid-back songs, while the heavier, more riff-heavy stuff had Matt rocking out on our level. They're known for their ridiculously over-elaborate live shows and they did not disappoint in any way here. The Flaming Lips are the only band I've seen that give them any competition in this regard, and even then, the Lips could never match this sort of scale.

The only sore spot on the set was Feeling Good. This isn't a new song, nor was it really a crowd-pleaser, so I don't know why they played it. I like the song, mind you, but I'd rather they'd spent that time playing something else. On the other hand, I'm very glad I got to hear Map of the Problematique. It's one of my favorite songs from Black Holes and Revelations and I can picture it fading from their setlists in the coming years, so I'm glad I caught it.

The show was worth it to hear the big hits in such an incredibly lively setting, and being able to hear New Born, Hysteria, Starlight and the like alongside thousands of people just as eager to hear them is pretty much what I've been living for over the past few years. The only downside to this show is that every live concert I go to from this point forward will seem like a tremendous step down. This show completely lived up to my expectations, and I can't wait for them to come around again.

I'd post some pictures, except MY FUCKING DIGITAL CAMERA GOT STOLEN. I did get a few with my phone, though, so I might post those after I upload them, if I ever do. In the meantime, do check out this video of them playing Stockholm last night. I'll add that I was closer to the stage than whoever made this video.

Oh yes: Silversun Pickups opened the show, and they were pretty good. I'm familiar with both of their albums and I recognized most of the songs. Kinda forgot about them after the main set began, but whatever.

Most recent blog posts from Mike Suskie...

Suskie Suskie - March 04, 2010 (07:55 AM)
I couldn't imagine actually paying money to see SSPU, but with a shorter set, opening for a show I was going to anyway, they were fine. I'd never even heard of most of the opening acts I've seen, so it was nice to actually be familiar with one for once. Also: Their lead singer looks like Jeremy Davies.

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