When it comes to a Muse concert, there is no compromise between visual awe and musical substance. On Friday, Muse overloaded the senses inside the TD Garden with a barrage of cleverly designed lights and videos accompanying meticulously crafted art-pop.
A pyramid of display screens and lights that alternately hovered over the stage and encased the musicians was the visual focal point of the stage design. The futuristic totem flashed song lyrics, displayed graphics and bits of song-video imagery, and lit up like a beacon, effectively illustrating Muse’s ability to draw crowds.
Additional effects were built into the presentation, yet none of the visual flash obscured the music itself. The show is big, but not limiting, as Muse typically plays a different set of songs each night even as it concentrates on material from its most recent release, “The 2nd Law.”
That album’s opening number, “Supremacy,” likewise served as a churning start to the concert (well, after a bit of pyramid glitz). Singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy immediately conjured the theatrical mood that he, drummer Dominic Howard, and bassist Christopher Wolstenholme would sustain over a 90-minute show (aided by touring keyboard player Morgan Nicholls).
“The 2nd Law” and its predecessor, “The Resistance,” blend romantic escapism and dark social commentary about control, authority, and eroding humanity. As a frontman, Bellamy stays atop the big ideas, delivering them with a sense of triumph that inevitably turned the Garden into a dance party. Even “United States of Eurasia,” evocative of the nuclear threat in recent headlines, was more of a bonding experience than a frightening one.
Muse also isn’t afraid to show off its inner geek; “Knights of Cydonia” is the kind of song that is cool because the band isn’t worried about how it looks playing a surf-rock-based, cinematic epic prefaced with a mournful harmonica solo.
Muse generally overstuffed its sound, with Bellamy reeling off several frenetic guitar parts, going so far as to play a Jimi Hendrix-style “Star-Spangled Banner” before segueing into the disco throb of “Panic Station.”
The spectacle carried right into the encores, as a sea of smacking lips — Stones aspirations? — lit up the pyramid screens during “Survival.”
Biffy Clyro opened the concert, and, like Muse, covered a variety of textures from the hard edge of “Stingin’ Belle” to the slick pop of “Bubbles.”Scott McLennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Scott