Muse

The title of this post has multiple meanings depending on how you look at it. In this case, I’m deviating from all of my usual arenas into somewhere I usually don’t go: music.

I have probably never said this (or have I?) but Muse is, at this point in my life and for many years previous to today, my favorite band. Along with Radiohead. And yes, there are others, but these are the top two. I categorize them as bands I would pay, or have my SO Frank buy, to go see. I like staying at home. I don’t like being in the middle of hundreds of excited, bouncing, screaming and yelling people. But the thing is, when I attend a Muse concert, I become one of the excited, bouncing, screaming and yelling people.

They played at the Rose Garden in Portland on January 31st, (or is it the Rose Quarter? I’m not a native Portlandian, I do not simply stick birds on things, or buy cell phones to meet the mayor–I don’t know these things, other than Powell’s is the only bookstore I know requiring a map to navigate and is one of the closest things to heaven I can imagine. Especially since there are white chocolate mochas as well). I saw them there in April, 2010 and it was the best show I had ever seen. Ever. Even better than lead singers arriving on stage in giant swans (I’m not sure how many bands have done that, now that I think on it. It was Andy Bell at either the Civic Center or the Fillmore in San Francisco so long ago I can’t remember–but they’re in a class of their own–fantastically inimitable, and completely different). That time, we had seats behind the stage, and I was still blown away.

This time, we had better seats, in front of the stage <g>, and I was just about speechless. Couldn’t hear very well, but speechless. I had snagged some photos from the fan images section of their page, but decided against using them. Still photos simply do not do this concert justice. The closest Frank thinks anyone would have come to the most recent was in terms of lighting and staging was Pink Floyd, who I’ve never seen except on video. They use the same set and make it do so many different things it’s mind boggling–the only thing that physically moved was this giant thing that came out of the ceiling. Things lit up and turned into video screens where you didn’t expect them to. It was jaw-dropping (and very scream-worthy).

The other thing about Muse is that (this would cause a flurry of argument if said loudly enough in a crowded environment) they are really and truly musicians. They know how to play whatever instrument they happen to be playing at the time backward and forward. Many musicians are good, but they are great. I might not feel so confident saying this except that I’m a (latent, at the moment) musician myself, with a really sensitive ear (alright, it can be argued that by the time the opening band has finished, some of that sensitivity is lost, but it’s more than just hearing it, it’s also feeling it, which I think any musician would say) who has played multiple instruments (and just so no one gets the impression I’m being puff-headed here, it was never like I was a virtuoso at any of them, and I was better at some than others. I could play just about anything I tried to, other than my sister’s clarinet, which always just sounded like I was torturing it. I could never understand that–I could play Men at Work on a saxophone)–I am not even sure where this sentence was going, now, I’ve interrupted myself so often. I’ve noticed this about the really good bands from the UK–they have, in general, a really solid understanding of music and musical training. Which explains why Matt Bellamy can go from playing The Star-Spangled Banner like Hendrix spot on and then move on to something ethereal and classical on the piano. Dominic Howard is simply a kick ass drummer. His innate sense of rhythm is incredible. And Christopher Wolstenholme is beyond belief. When I found out that he had originally been a drummer for a different band, and was approached by Bellamy and Howard to join theirs, only they wanted him to play bass instead of drums, so he agreed and learned how, I was shocked, because I think he’s one of the best bassists out there, and he plays a pretty damn mean harmonica, too. And now he’s writing and singing some of his own songs, which was odd at first, to hear someone other than Bellamy singing, but I found out more about him (I’m not one of those people who usually delves into all the personal areas of a musician’s life) and what the songs referred to, and it happens to be an area that touched my life as well pretty intensely. The fact that he has written these songs, and so many people have heard them, and he’s out in front of everyone singing them himself, is, I hope, as meaningful to the people they’re meant for as they would be for me. I never got any apology, just long silences and expectations of a call from a morgue. This person and Wolstenholme, incredibly, have the same birthday. Which is how I found out my person had died, going onto Facebook to wish him a happy birthday and to find all these people who had been there before me wishing him happy birthday and that they missed him. He wasn’t a musician, though, he was a photographer.

Don’t mean to be a downer, it just made me happy that Wolstenholme is moving past that, and has a family and his band members and I’m sure, more than one fan, including me, wishing him the best. It’s often the people who feel the most who have the most problems, because they don’t know how to deal with them (this is from dealing with my friend). Internal hurts are sometimes the worst. I think he would have enjoyed Muse’s latest show quite a bit.

They are still playing plenty of shows, although I do think they are done with the West Coast of the US. It astounds me the places they go. Their official website is: http://muse.mu/ and the site also has many if not all of the videos for their songs (the ones videos have been done for, that is). <g>

To briefly touch on the issue of the other type of muse, it’s popular now, seemingly, for authors to post their playlists. For me, Muse is always one of the bands I listen to when I’m writing.

Brion would not approve, but I think Geoffrey would like them.

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