Muse in Portland for Will of the People Tour

Concert Review: Muse Makes a Statement in Portland

Lights, lasers, strobes, a confetti shower and one giant stage-sized masked face rotating back and forth looking eerily at the crowd. Let’s see, what else, what else? Oh yes. Fire. Lots of fire.

All in a night’s work for Muse as the English rockers brought their Will of the People Tour to the Moda Center on Sunday in Portland. The band played 22 songs with videos in between and a couple of shorter song cuts, in a nearly two-hour long set featuring all the stage theatrics that define the Muse live show.

Though the visual element always accompanies the band, this time it seemed as if Muse let the music do more of the talking, or at least playing. It was all business, too, for the official trio of singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenhome and drummer Dominic Howard who brought along a fourth musician to contribute on keyboards, some extra drums and guitar when Bellamy was doing other things. The stage located on one end of the arena in amphitheater style with a long catwalk down the middle. Bellamy yelled out infrequent “thanks yous,” introduced one song and the longest conversation of the evening when he recognized more people showed up than the last time they came through on the Drones Tour.

Indeed, Muse pretty much sold-out the arena from top-to-bottom. Ten years ago for the 2nd Law Tour, the 300 level was curtained off. Muse entered the stage wearing full apocalyptic-like masks plowing right into the title track off the new album. A rather poignant, yet somewhat subtle messaging on the band’s feelings about what occurred during the coronavirus lockdowns, short dystopian videos occasionally played in between songs serving as the introduction to the next and supplementary visuals for the evening’s theme.

Muse brought their stage show to Portland during Will of the People Tour
Muse played in between fire balls

Muse played seven off Will of the People, interspersed with their popular hits and a couple of deeper cuts. At times very loud (I pulled out an earplug just to hear and quickly popped it back in), Muse found their cadence from the start and really never let up except for the video segments allowing them to change attire or put the masks back on.

The short track “Interlude” accompanied “Hysteria” just as it does on 2004’s Absolution, followed by “Psycho” and “Bliss” an excellent selection off 2001’s Origin of Symmetry, the band’s second album. The heavy “Won’t Stand Down” flooded in the decibels then one of the videos took your eyes off the stage so the giant masked figure would emerge when the band returned to the stage for “Compliance.” That guy stuck around for much of the show.

Bellamy’s vocals drove the slower “Thought Contagion” and the contemplative “Verona.” Howard gave his bandmates a bit of a break as he walked out to the secondary platform to lead the instrumental “The 2nd Law: Isolated Systems.” Bellamy took his turn in the spotlight by playing a slide guitar solo while sitting on the shoulder of the giant masked figure for his take on “The Dark Side” and later playing “Behold, The Glove” off his solo album Cryosleep where he played much of the 80s like keyboard sounds off an electronic gadget, behold a glove!, attached to his arm. While very Muse-y, this resulted in the only hiccup of the evening as his soaring guitar was mostly sidelined for “Uprising” and the start of “Starlight.” Both songs failed to measure up to their potential greatness.

Chris Wolstenhome plays a double-neck bass on Madness
Chris Wolstenhome on double-bass

But not so with the Depeche Mode sounding “Undisclosed Desires,” and “You Make me Feel Like It’s Halloween” which bested the album version. Even the scales song, what I call “Plug In Baby” (another off their sophomore album) because the primary riff sounds like practice scales had some magic.  Bellamy let the crowd sing a little too much on “Madness” but the crescendo that culminates midway always delivers. Wolstenhome brought out the double-neck bass for that one instead of the digital version he used last time.  A quick encore included “Kill or Be Killed” off their latest and the popular “Knights of Cydonia” started with Wolstenhome playing a harmonica.

Muse played well and when factoring in the rhythm and beats of the lights and other effects, extraordinarily well. Perhaps this explains the dialed-in nature of their craft to stay on point with the timing of everything.

Muse Will of the People Tour Setlist:

  1. Will of the People
  2. Hysteria
  3. Psycho
  4. Bliss
  5. Won’t Stand Down
  6. Compliance
  7. Thought contagion
  8. Verona
  9. Time is Running Out
  10. The 2nd Law: Isolated Systems
  11. Undisclosed Desires
  12. You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween
  13. Madnesss
  14. We Are !@#$%
  15. The Dark Side
  16. Supermassive Black Hole
  17. Plug In Baby
  18. Behold, The Glove
  19. Uprising
  20. Starlight
  21. Kill or Be Killed
  22. Knights of Cydonia

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