Monday, April 12, 2010

Muse @ US Airways Center

I almost didn't get to shoot this concert, and now I'm even more glad that I did. I have been a Muse fan for a little while now, they still strike me as a "more straight-forward rock version of Radiohead", but I don't say that as an insult. Last time Muse was in town I asked to photograph them and the New Times passed on even reviewing the concert... and this time around they are playing US Airways Center and I'm fighting to be able to photograph it, what happened?

While on the floor waiting to shoot, I met the owner of Luckyman Concerts, and talked to him briefly about Muse and the AZ concert market. He recalled the last few times they played AZ and the smaller venues he booked them in.... but suddenly, they've blown up. The only thing either of us could contribute that to was their inclusion on the Twilight soundtracks. So many more people have discovered Muse through Twilight than radio nowadays I'd guess.

Regardless of how they got here, they are here... and they put on a MASSIVE show! When the photogs were escorted down we were told we'd be shooting from the sound board, which always sounds like a death sentence to us... but then we were told that the stage setup was huge, and we wouldn't want to miss it. When I first saw the stage set up, I was impressed by it's size, but I still wanted to be closer to it. It looked like three skyscrapers were sitting on the stage... with a scrim over the front of them mimicking the look of windows. When the show started, all the lights went down and ghostly images of people walking up stairs were projected on the buildings. As the first song, "Uprising", kicked in, the scrims fell and the three brits were revealed to be towering over the crowd, 20-feet up in the center of the large columns... which were now lit up by LEDs... with the band's faces projected on them, along with lots of other colorful video.

It was a very cool thing to start with, then it just kept getting cooler. By the third song, the respective platforms that each band member was on had lowered to the stage, and lasers from all sides of the stage covered every angle of the arena. I can't express how much I like lasers in concert. It sounds so cheesy, but when you see them in person, you can appreciate how bizarre and different they are... and Muse used them to the fullest. The lasers were strobing, fanning, and beaming all over the place. It made for some great photos.

Sound wise, again... excellent! The start of the "Uprising" was a keyboard, played off-stage by a touring fourth member of the band... and then followed by vocals, drums, and a crazy fuzzed-out bass. It sounded so full even without the guitar, but when Matt strummed the first piercing notes that doubled the vocal line "Come on!", it really woke everyone up! Matt plays all custom guitars, each very unique sounding and looking... and some are even crazy modified. A few of them have a Zvex Fuzz Factory pedals built in to the body, and others have Kaoss pads installed for modulation effects at the touch of a finger. This would have been one of those things I would have loved to see up close. Because I am a nerd.

All in all, it was an amazing show! However, I still would have loved to be closer to the stage. Even with a 400mm lense, it's still hard to get those ultra dramatic angles... and with all the cool lighting everywhere on stage, I can only imagine what could have been.

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