TORONTO, ONTARIO – July 18th saw the rock opera that is Muse descend upon Budweiser Stage in Toronto with Thirty Seconds To Mars in tow. Known for their synth-rock sound and melodic vocals, you’ve probably thought, “that sound can never be replicated live”. You’d be wrong. Dead wrong. In fact, Muse may be one of the best bands you EVER have the pleasure of seeing live. If their dead-on sound, and air tight musical skills doesn’t melt your brain, the visuals will. This band is bulletproof live. This tour sees Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard playing in front of massive and moving television screens that displayed everything from images from the band’s microphone-mounted cameras, to psychedelic, pixelated renditions of the band’s live movements.
Decked out in neon LED glasses and light-up guitars, Muse visually brought the 80’s to life as they opened with their new single, Dig Down. Bathed in orange light, lyrics spilled out on the screen behind the band as if the entire amphitheatre had been transformed into the movie Tron (no Jeff Bridges sightings though, unfortunately). From there, to the delight of the sellout crowd, it was foot to the floor as the band ripped into Drone’s metal infused, Psycho. Complete with snippets and riffs from Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Rage Against the Machine the crowd was kept on its toes while riffs led into favourites Mercy, Dead Inside and Stockholm Syndrome. All 20,000 fans already on their feet, went ballistic as Supermassive Black Hole enveloped the building. As a side note, I’d love to know what the band actually thinks of this, as rumour has it they’re not entirely thrilled at their music’s entanglement with the movie, Twilight.
Bellamy, not known for his banter or crowd interaction, kept the night moving at a torrid pace hardly stopping between songs. However, it was Bellamy himself, providing one of the most memorable moments of the evening singing the song Starlight from the middle of the packed house among adoring fans as giant, confetti-filled Hullaballoons were unleashed among the audience. The enormous orbs bounced along the outstretched hands before bursting, sending a hail of confetti throughout the night’s air. The set ended with The Globalist, before fan demand brought Muse back out for encore with a rousing rendition of Uprising and finishing the night off for good with Knights of Cydonia.
Thirty Seconds to Mars certainly knows how to open a show. At the complete opposite spectrum to Muse’s frontman, Hollywood’s Jared Leto does nothing but interact with the crowd. Actually, I have to give Leto credit. He probably involves the audience better than most lead singers I have ever come across. Complete with singling out people in the audience to bringing fans on stage, the Joker does not disappoint. Having said that, Leto entered the stage wearing one of the ugliest goddamn outfits rock and roll has ever seen. From his silver shoes, hideous patterned pants and red silk poncho to his backwards trucker hat and 90’s sunglasses, Leto looked more like he ransacked a flea market then got ready for a rock show. Fans didn’t seem to care much though. Thirty Seconds still played their hits, still entertained the crowd and still played as if they were the headliners. Near the end of the show, the crowd was entrusted with a secret, sworn to keep it to themselves… Thirty Seconds to Mars is releasing a new album this year, and Toronto was getting a debut performance of the first single. It gets decidedly more awesome than that though. The crowd was played a snippet of the chorus, then lead through a copycat sing along by Leto. The cool part? The audience was being recorded and used as a backing track to the album version. Yes, those in attendance tuesday night are all officially back-up singers on Thirty Seconds to Mars’ new album, and their new single. Don’t they need my address for the royalty cheques? They never asked.
Words and photos by Drew J. Nihill