Team dRiFFt attended the highly-anticipated Simulation Theory tour at the American Airlines stadium in Dallas, where Muse's spectacular production took over on Sunday evening. Muse released their eighth studio album Simulation Theory late in 2018, following with an international stadium tour. The Simulation Theory album takes a decidedly softer slant this time around; with a notable tribute to science fiction, subtle underpinnings of a political slant and a decidedly Tron-esque aesthetic. It features album art designed by Stranger Things artist Kyle Lambert and forms the ambitious underpinnings of an even bigger live show. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who isn't familiar with Muse; the iconic rock trio features the inescapable brilliance of Matt Bellamy's vocals, Chris' powerful guitar riffs, and Dominic, untamed on drums. We know them for 'big' melancholic, symphonic tunes, sold-out international tours and festival headlining notoriety. They are simply incredible live
Our expectations were suitably high stepping on to the floor of the stadium last weekend. We are treated to an upbeat opening set by pop-rock royalty, Walk The Moon, before the big production. ‘YOU ARE LIVING IN A SIMULATION’ displays above the stage. A marching band of robots files out to start the show with the “Pressure”. The whole show was an attempt to sway the audience to the idea of pseudo-reality; so gentle and slow. By the time the old arcade game 'Simulation Theory' popped up mid-stage while the audience’s attention was elsewhere, you thought it might be just a little true.
"In the intro to “Psycho” I just started started shouting ‘Aye, Sir!’ in unison with the crowd, on cue with the intro being shouted at us by the massive cyborg on the big screen. It was a complete reflex. I’m sure there were a ton of people in the crowd that were stoked and made a conscious effort, but I didn’t even realize I’d done it until the words had left my mouth. I have to think that I wasn’t the only one that’s been completely brainwashed by Drones at this point."
During "Take a Bow," we're treated to another dramatic moment. Matt Bellamy, bathed in a spotlight that could have come from a UFO above, light beam surrounded by lasers like he was trapped in a cage. He raises a crystal skull in a reflective glove, through the laser beams to refract and scatter light all over the gargantuan stadium space. Stunning. He sang to the skull like he was trapped in sorrow. Later, a troupe of lumbering zombie dancers weave their way out to Matt as he's poised on a pedestal, bathed in light and surrounded by swirling, neon green fog. They circle, threateningly, as he rips trippy, quirky riffs on a jet-black-matte guitar, zombies falling and disappearing as his guitar solo crescendos.
"When Chris stepped to the center stage I could tell what was about to happen, even before he broke into the riff of the song “Hysteria”. I’d never heard that song live before and it probably wasn’t the best idea, but I yanked out my earplugs instinctively. I wanted to feel that song in my chest, I wanted those notes to leave off their instruments and wander their way magically into my ears like something out an acid trip montage in some bad 80’s movie"
In the latter half of the show, an immeasurably large alien zombie robot makes an appearance. Hovering up and over the stage from behind, this massive animatronic beast subsequently attacks Matt Bellamy, who fights off the indomitable beast with big powerful guitar riffs. He doesn’t slay the monster, but held it at bay for the next few songs until it subtly retreats, without notice, during the performance of “Dig Down” on the thrust stage.
Each song became a production of it's own, a little mini drama playing out on stage. Muse has always been a blend of big, creative and romantic. It naturally translates well to the drama of a big stadium or festival stage. The music alone, so epic. The experience - even bigger. Standing in the pit surrounded by hundreds of others, the music becomes communal. It's almost too easy to just give in and dance your face off. Everyone needs to experience this at least once in their lives.
Muse took us on a journey through space and time, and light and sound so incredibly immersive. When Matt Bellamy finished the final set by pulling the plug out of the arcade game, simultaneously killing the lights in the entire stadium, I was certain the stage would be clear when the lights returned - devoid of any signs that the last 2-1/2 hours had taken place. But the lights came back on, the trio standing and waving while the crowd cheered their hearts out. This was something very special - something we'll likely never see again. Unless we manage to scoop an additional set of tickets while the tour lasts. You can see their tour schedule here. And trust us, this one is a show well worth seeing.
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