When thinking of active Rock bands powerful enough to move a stadium size crowd, a short list comes to mind. Of course there are The Rolling Stones, U2, Bon Jovi , along with Iron Maiden in certain corners of the earth, but how about throwing Muse into the discussion?
An English Alternative Rock trio from Teignmouth, Devon, Muse began their journey back in the mid ’90s with hopes and aspirations, but little did they know, one day they would become one the most successful bands in the world. In fact, since the release of Absolution in 2003, each of their albums through 2015’s Drones peaked at number 1 on UK charts, and by the way, 2001’s Origin of Symmetry hit number 3 there. A fever which spread across the continents like wildfire, through the years it became evident that Muse was a band that transcended genres – Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, and Heavy Metal fans alike became drawn into their sound. Completely hooking the North American market as more than just a whisper of a must see band, 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations would change the game for Muse and soon they were headlining their own gigs at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in 2007. Since, it has been a steady growth, establishing Muse as one of the biggest bands around.
Living on the road, Muse has been traveling the world over since 2015’s Drones, performing over 150 shows through 2016. Now in 2017, they are back at it with a North American tour featuring support from Thirty Seconds to Mars and Pvris. A run that officially kicked off May 20th, it is arguably one of the hottest concert tickets of the summer. Proving such, on Saturday, July 22nd, a crowd of nearly 15,000 showed up at Long Island, New York’s Atlantic Ocean shoreline to bare witness to their performance at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater.
A show that began at 7 PM, the first act up was rising stars Pvris. From the New England region of the USA, Pvris (pronounced Paris) is a three piece band consisting of Lyndsey “Lynn Gunn” Gunnulfsen on lead vocals/rhythm guitar, Alex Babinski on lead guitar, and Brian MacDonald on bass. Making an impact with the release of their 2014 debut album, White Noise, Pvris spent time on Vans Warped Tour that year, and the buzz they created promoted a reissue of the album in 2016. Now selling out their own headlining shows, Pvris are set to the next step in their evolution with their forthcoming album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, and what better place to prepare than opening for Muse.
As stated, a band well on the rise, and known to a great deal of people, when it comes to playing an opening slot for a band like Muse, there will be a great deal of casual fans unfamiliar. In addition, being the opening band while daylight is still plentiful and people are arriving into their seats is also a tall order. Up to the challenge, Pvris came out with no fear as they began with new song “Half” before kicking into high gear with “Fire,” before known singles such as “You and I” and “Heaven.”
Not allowing the amphitheater to swallow them up, Pvris captured the attention of the audience, and even had a strong showing of support from their own fans as seen by some fans dancing erratically in the upper mezzanine through the final song “My House.” For those interested, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell is out August 25th and on October 10th they will be headlining their own show at NYC’s own Terminal 5. Chances are that show, among others on the album tour, will see more support coming thanks to this summer tour.
Also an act established, with the ability to sell out venues such as NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom, Thirty Seconds to Mars were elate to be returning to Jones Beach for the first time since August 19th of 2014 a part of the Carnivores Tour with AFI, and yes, Linkin Park. With the tragic suicide of Chester Bennington weighing on the music communities mind, it was never more evident than within Thirty Seconds to Mars’ set.
Beginning with their rousing “Up in the Air,” they would go into songs such as chant-along “This Is War” and “Kings and Queens.” More of an interactive experience than most live bands, Jared Leto often allows the crowd to take over opposed to singing the tunes alone. Then, quietly in the back drop, his bandmates, brother Shannon Leto on drums, and Tomo Miličević on guitar, provide tight and colorful instrumentation as Jared engages the crowd. Hard to keep still, only a few songs in, Jared was already running up and down the aisles of the crowd before settling down behind the soundboard area with an acoustic guitar strapped over his shoulder. Going into a heartfelt confession of Bennington’s impact on him as a person and performer, he dedicated the song “Alibi” to the fallen musician.
Jared remained in the crowd for a good 15 minutes, messing around and connecting with the audience before giving an emotional stripped down rendition of one of the band’s biggest hits, “The Kill (Bury Me).” Of course the sing-a-long did not stop there and “City of Angels” found Jared back on stage enticing the crowd’s participation. Speaking of, he dropped the news that a new album is in the works and gave fans an introduction to a new single, even inviting a fan to sing part of the song with him.
From here, the set remained highly interactive and Jared made it clear, Thirty Seconds to Mars’ objective has always been to make their concerts more of a reunion of sorts with fans, oppose to just a performance of music. Finishing out with songs like “Do or Die,” a little Led Zeppelin with “The Ocean,” a mass of lucky fans were invited on stage for the finale of “Closer to the Edge.” Perhaps it was Bennington’s loss in the back of the band’s mind, but Thirty Seconds to Mars appeared more inspired than ever as they made their impressive return to Jones Beach.
From here, Bandleader Matt Bellamy glimmered bright on lead vocals and guitars, shredding with ease while moving about the stage. His brother-in-arms, Bassist Chris Wolstenholme gave the backbone for the vocal harmonies while Drummer Dominic Howard dazzled, especially during a brief eerie instrumental interlude of “The 2nd Law: Isolated System.” Choosing to continue rocking hard, “Hysteria,” “Resistance,” and guitar players wet dream, “Plug In Baby” were thrown into the mix. Flowing seamlessly together, perhaps the biggest surprise came when they jammed into the ultra heavy “Stockholm Syndrome” before irresistible bodymoving dance number “Supermassive Black Hole.” Equally effective, through it all, Bellamy’s vocals were flawless, hitting all the right notes.
Keeping the energy high, Muse threw out a curveball that real musicphiles immediately picked up on when they went into a cover of The Cramps’ “New Kind of Kick.” Giving the classic Punk tune their own touch, it was just part of the charm of the night before they went into the big hit “Madness,” electronic leaning “Dead Inside,” and another heavy instrumental with “Munich Jam.” Now some may be thinking, what about the crowd interaction? Well, Muse need not blabber too much because their output of precision musicianship and mesmerizing visuals surrounding take the audience on a dream-like journey. In fact, judging by the look in some spectators eyes, they were completely entranced by the sight and sounds, merely watching in awe. Few were actually browsing their newsfeed on social media, a rare occurrence in 2017, people were actually paying attention!
Although, Bellamy was not completely silent, he did acknowledge the passing of Linkin Park’s Bennington, emotionally dedicating the beautiful “Starlight” in his honor. From this point it was a blast from the past as long-time fans were treated to the 2003 hit “Time Is Running Out.” Responding with synchronized jumping during the chorus, Muse continued to lay it all on the stage with the Queen-like harmonies of “Mercy” as confetti flew through the air before the assault of “Drones” to close out the main portion of the set.
Returning with an encore of “Uprising” and “Knights of Cydonia,” little chatter in between songs was needed because Muse decided to give fans what they came to see – a loud, proud, Rock-n-Roll show. Few bands can actually play through a set speaking little and still keep the performance personal, but Muse manages to do just that with flying colors. Emotionally driven, their attention to detail is impeccable, and in many ways, one will forget they are not spinning the records at home on their stereo. A performance that will have everyone talking, over the past decade, Muse has become by far one of the best live musical experiences on the planet.
Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography