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October 23, 2018

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Review: Muse’s spectacle is spectacular at Mandalay Bay

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L.E. Baskow

Muse performs Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Muse at Mandalay Bay Events Center

Muse frontman and guitarist Matt Bellamy and bandmates perform Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »
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Muse drummer Dominic Howard and frontman and guitarist Matt Bellamy perform Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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Muse bass guitarist Chris Wolstenholme performs Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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Muse frontman and guitarist Matt Bellamy performs Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Leading into British rock band Muse’s “Drones World Tour” stop Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center, knowledge of the repertoire of the band formed in 1994 was limited to its four most commercially successful, fan-favorite songs: “Starlight,” “Madness,” “Supermassive Black Hole” (yes, because of “Twilight”) and “Uprising.”

By the end of the nearly two-hour, supermassive-ly awesome set, Muse had an avid new fan boy in this journalist.

Muse is heartthrob Matthew Bellamy (vocals, guitar, keyboard, keytar, piano, lyrics) who qualifies as dreamy not only because he’s a frontman with soaring, emotive vocals, but also because he was engaged to actress Kate Hudson for a spell; hunky Christopher Wolstenholme (bass, backing vocals, keyboard, guitar); and Dominic Howard (percussion, synthesizer). An unidentified keyboardist supported Muse on Saturday night and certainly deserves a salute.

Muse’s post-apocalyptic world kicked off at 9 p.m. with illuminated hullaballoons, nine of them that look like plastic versions of the High Roller pods at the Linq Promenade, floating above the arena.

Smartly, the stage was set up in the middle of the events center floor flanked by two catwalks, staging that maximized Muse’s spectacular production and meant standing-room-only on the floor, which led to a raucous crowd for the entire concert, not to discount the high-energy loyalty of Muse fans. It’s staging that should be used more often, at least to keep up the energy level.

Eight rectangular scrims hanging from the ceiling flanked a round circular screen above Muse and were used effectively to project images during the concert. During “The Handler,” puppet strings were projected to look as if they controlled Bellamy, Wolstenholme and his big guns and Howard and his drumsticks.

The evening was nearly entirely production with little audience engagement — Bellamy managed a “How are you guys feeling tonight?” before “Resistance” — not a criticism at all in an evening when Bellamy and Wolstenholme’s guitar work was exceptional and soared with the riveting, out-of-this-world and sometimes rapturous production.

During “Supermassive Black Hole,” Wolstenholme took the lead vocals at times, with Bellamy focusing on guitar, and the hullaballoons returned to orbit. During the sing-along “Starlight,” large black balloons were released throughout the events center and when popped at the end of the song released confetti.

“Munich Jam” turned the spotlight on Wolstenholme and Howard, as the duo engaged in a thrashing guitar-and-drum solo duet while the stage rotated. During “Madness,” the first slowed-down, ballad-ish song of the night, Wolstenholme played a “Kitara,” an iPad-like, touch-sensitive guitar.

The concert started loud and fierce and ended the same way. “The Globalist” began ballad-like, then rocked hard with accompanying big drone hovering over the crowd, the return of the hullaballoons and incredible, recorded harmony of what sounded like a men’s choir. Confetti cannons erupted after “Mercy,” which reminded of another British band, Erasure, and before the show-closing “Knights of Cydonia.”

Phantogram served as the opening act. Saturday night’s setlist: “Psycho,” “Dead Inside,” “Interlude,” “Hysteria,” “Map of the Problematique,” “The 2nd Law: Isolated System” (shortened), “The Handler,” “Resistance,” “Supermassive Black Hole,” “Prelude,” “Starlight” and “Apocalypse Please” (during which Bellamy sang while playing a piano).

Also: “Munich Jam,” “Madness,” “Undisclosed Desires” (which reminded of yet another British band, Depeche Mode), “Reapers,” “Time Is Running Out,” “Uprising,” “The Globalist,” “Mercy” and “Knights of Cydonia.”

Don Chareunsy is the Las Vegas Sun’s entertainment and luxury senior editor and has been a journalist for nearly two decades.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

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