When reading the lyrics of most songs within the Muse catalog, it’s not difficult to see why the band was invited to play at L.A. Rising. Beginning its set with a song called “Uprising” seemed not only fitting, but also a bold assertion of the group’s worthiness as an L.A. Rising headliner. Despite its anthemic choruses and politically charged themes, a lot of what it sings about seems theoretical. It is as if the revolution the band sings about is set in some futuristic landscape where armies are comprised of weaponized robots and telekinetic minions. For that reason, Muse is a band that seems to exist for spectacle, a cinematic explosion that allows for audience participation but not necessarily interaction.
Lead singer Matt Bellamy did enjoy various moments of ad-libbed guitar. There was an impromptu version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” a rendition of the first verse of “House of the Rising Sun” (complete with an audience vocal solo) and even a riff that bore a vague resemblance to the opening of Audioslave’s “Cochise,” a song for which three members of Rage Against the Machine provided instrumentals.
For any fan of energy and volume, a live Muse performance is a dream come true. LCD hexagons backed the stage, playing video reels of animated fiber optic tubes, artificial intelligence scans and Star Wars-like stormtroopers marching in time to the beat of the music. Giant pillars of dry ice smoke erupted during the last chorus of “Butterflies and Hurricanes.” Lasers criss-crossed the area around the rim of the open-air stadium, creating the illusion of a rock force field protecting all the fans in attendance.
Muse’s set was something to behold but not particularly one that made any statement beyond the power of elaborate concert-planning. The closest Muse came to being politically overt was, fittingly, in its finale, a rendition of “Knights of Cydonia,” an epic chorus that provided the appropriate segue to the night’s final act.