It was an abnormally cold and rainy Monday night in the city of Angels; who knew Inglewood was about to turn into the hottest and most electrifying place on the planet. The Forum was the place, and it was poised to take everyone on a journey of sonic and visual sensory overload. The band was MUSE and their Simulation Theory Tour was about to take center stage.
The night started off innocent enough with a band from the Buckeye state, that’s Ohio to you and me. WALK THE MOON was the band, and the Cincinnati natives were excited to be playing in front of a sold-out house and opening for MUSE. Immediately, front-man, Nicholas Petricca, thanked the crowd for coming out, he said “We’re just like you, we’ve all loved Muse since we were little kids,” and the crowd loved him for saying that. Featuring hits like Anna Sun, Shut Up and Dance and Timebomb; WALK THE MOON proved to be up to the task of the big stage. They entertained the crowd with a lively and guitar driven performance. They even channeled a Led Zeppelin bridge in their performance, and it sounded really good! AND the Buckeyes can dance! Needless to say, the show started off on a very good note.
Truthfully, I attended my first concert in 1981, it was Earth, Wind & Fire in their prime, and they were spectacular. I’ve been waiting for an over-the-top insane cartoon-crazy show like that one ever since. I’m not sure if it was nostalgia in the form of ghosts hanging from the rafters from those glory days that historic venue has witnessed, but something was in the air Monday night, and it was going to be something special. Inasmuch as the Forum was the home for so many great Laker teams, that venue has become a godsend for music, the acoustics are simply fantastic. MUSE came out and took advantage of the sweet-sounding arena taking the crowd into a journey of sight, sound, and mind. It was so next level, Rod Serling would have even approved. They opened with Algorithm, front-man, Matt Bellamy emerged from the depths of the Forum floor, he was accompanied by a team of LED light wearing brass robot-like performers. Just like a UFC fight, the crowd received a quick punch in the face with a sound that was bone piercing with the rhythmic-like tempo of Radiohead with the raw energy of the Beasties. It was a surreal scene to say the least. Before the crowd could catch their breath, Bellamy and crew dove into their latest hit, Pressure. It was as if Kareem, Magic, Kobe, and Shaq were back because the screams from the crowd were over-the-top deafening.
Throughout the show, there was a great mix of new and classic tunes. The band was tight, there’s no other way to describe it, they were simply electric. Bellamy was great on vocals while being masterful on lead guitar. Chris Wolstenholme was as good as it gets on bass. Dominic Howard killed it on drums; this band has become one of the tightest sounds in music. Their signature sound is hard to pinpoint, it’s a cross between ALT Rock, groovy-electro-funk and bone-crushing melodies. MUSE definitely gave the crowd what they came for. They heard the songs they screamed for. Songs like Psycho, Break It To Me, Uprising, Propaganda, Thought Contagion, Dig Down, Mercy, Time Is Running Out, Starlight, and Madness. A high point took place when a call to all MUFON members took hold as Bellamy and Wolstenholme went into a Close Encounters soundtrack anthem and slid into Supermassive Black Hole. The Forum literally lost its collective mind. Then they went into Hysteria, and the crowd took it up a notch and went into mass hysteria over that tune. Other encore songs like Stockholm syndrome and Knights of Cydonia also left the crowd screaming as if they were at a Beatles concert.
I’ve been covering shows for nearly three decades as a journalist, and as a broadcaster. I can honestly say, I’m a hard guy to impress. Maybe I’m jaded from that first show in 1981, nevertheless, MUSE may have delivered the most spectacular show of 2019, and for me, maybe the best show I’ve seen since 1981.
Honestly, most people I talk to about music tell me the simple fact that they love the bands they love because of the music, period. That said, that next level band is the band that leaves you speechless after seeing them. It’s that live performance magic that touches our souls. Bands that can entertain their fans at that next level don’t come around very often. Sure, the crowd at the Forum was loud, but they weren’t obnoxious nor menacing. They were intense, but not out of control. Bottom line, they were being entertained by what could arguably be the most entertaining band on the planet. It’s taken them nearly 25 years; this band gives you their all and they play like their hair is on fire! Consequently, they’ve earned the respect of their fans, and critics alike. That’s something that money just can’t buy.
Somewhere between the sonic heaven of the Forum, and the surreal life that is MUSE, we got to encounter robotic trombonists, ninja astronauts descending from the ceiling, and a four-story-tall cyborg-skeleton monster. The video presentation and light show were uber-crazy good, the performers were engaging and borderline-creepy. It became very clear to me that we were witnessing something we’ll talk about for some time to come.
MUSE has proven over and over that they can be as powerful, artistic, and era-defining as any band in the Rock n’ Roll of Fame. When this band takes the stage, they become larger than life. It was definitely a great night for music, and everyone definitely got their money’s worth. The Simulation Theory Tour most definitely lived up to all the hype.