Monday, July 24, 2017

Muse at Rumsey Playfield

Matt Bellamy
Matt Bellamy was born in Cambridge, England, and started playing the piano at age six and guitar at 11. His family had already moved to Teignmouth when the 12-year-old first performed publicly at school in 1991. As a teenager, he played in several bands, finally forming Rocket Baby Dolls in 1994, later renamed Muse. The trio has retained its original personnel of Matt Bellamy (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards) and Dominic Howard (drums). Muse has sold over 20 million albums worldwide and has won two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album, two Brit Awards, five MTV Europe Music Awards and eight NME Awards. Muse's seventh and most recent album is 2015's Drones,  a concept album about the dehumanization of modern warfare. A new song, "Dig Down," was released on May 18, 2017, preceding an album expected for release in 2018.

Muse has headlined Madison Square Garden in the past, but tonight performed at the significantly smaller Rumsey Playfield in Central Park as part of CityPark's SummerStage 2017 series. The concert was a benefit for Coalition for the Homeless. Assisted by longtime collaborator Morgan Nicholls on keyboards, bass and percussion, Muse opened with its most current song, "Dig Down," and then took a mini-retrospective of its last six albums. The set also included a cover of the Cramps' "New Kind of Kick" and an acoustic interpretation of "Undisclosed Desires." The set was rooted in complex, progressive hard rock, with Bellamy's clear, melancholic falsetto and charging, arpeggiated and pitch-shifting guitar riffs soaring above a thick wall of sound. Bellamy's vocal techniques included vibrato, in which his slight and rapid variation in pitch produced a richer tone, and melisma, an ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text. Meanwhile, Wolstenholme used fuzz tones and other distortions to give the music a heavy bottom, and Howard simply pummeled the drums in rhythm. These arrangements were ambitious, and they were expertly executed.

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  1. Dig Down
  2. Psycho
  3. Interlude
  4. Hysteria (with AC/DC's "Back in Black" riff outro)
  5. Map of the Problematique (with "Who Knows Who" riff outro)
  6. Bliss (with extended outro)
  7. The 2nd Law: Isolated System (shortened)
  8. The Handler
  9. Supermassive Black Hole
  10. New Kind of Kick (The Cramps cover) (with playback vocals)
  11. Madness
  12. Undisclosed Desires (Bellamy on acoustic guitar)
  13. Starlight
  14. Time Is Running Out
  15. Mercy
  1. Uprising (with extended outro)
  2. Knights of Cydonia (with Ennio Morricone's "Man With a Harmonica" intro)