muse_hammerstein03.jpgThere was a time, not too long ago, when I believed that Muse was the best live band on the planet. I was in Ireland at a music festival in the summer of 2004 and witnessed what was one of the most impressive concerts of my life. There were grown men crying beside me shouting "Matt Bellamy is a God!" at the top of their lungs. It just unbelievably surreal.

A few club shows later in the states and I was brought back to earth. Sure they were still pretty great, but they had built themselves up in my mind to unmatchable heights. It's like watching the same surprise movie ending more than once. Sure, it's still impressive, and it gives you the chance to look deeper into how it worked, but you can never replace the genuine thrill of the first time.

I walked into the theatre after a long day with my expectations significantly lowered. And I was kind of happy I was tired and wanted to go home. I'm glad I wasn't going into this show expecting the greatest thing ever. Cause if I had, I may have been disappointed.

With that said, I can confidently now state that Muse still is the most exciting live band in the world. I wouldn't have said that 24 hours ago I don't think, but last night's show reconfirmed it for me. It was a slow build, however, with a stronger mix of the weaker new songs pushed out of the way early. But after hearing a few hits off Absolution and a surprise revival of their epic Nina Simone cover "Feeling Good", I was right back into it. The set continued to build more and more momentum, foregoing many more new songs for the tried and true classics such as Plug In Baby and the quintessential set-closer Stockholm Syndrome. By the second swoon of "this is the last time I'll abandon you", I was right back in Ireland. Nothing could top this. Only an encore that included "Time is Running Out" into their latest triumph "Knights of Cydonia" would be appropriate here, with the urgent final lyrics projected over their heads in giant letters for an emphatic sendoff.

It's very fortunate that a band this massive and triumphant has attracted a fan base that can fill a space the size of Hammerstein. These three seem so much more comfortable when they are not outplaying the confines of the room. Perhaps the clubs for the last US tour were too small to really compliment these guys. Whatever it is, last night was a necessary reminder that Muse is the greatest live band on the planet. Judging the 3,500 people who packed into Hammerstein last night, I’m excited to see more and more people have figured this out.

(picture via The Modern Age)