Muse Brings Wartime Rock Back to South Florida

Muse Brings Wartime Rock Back to South Florida
Danny Clinch
click to enlarge DANNY CLINCH
Danny Clinch
Some bands, no matter how popular they get, aren't meant for cavernous arenas or massive amphitheaters. Perhaps their sound is too intimate or their stage presence too introverted.

Muse does not have that problem.

The British three-piece — consisting of singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy, bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and drummer Dominic Howard — has spent the past two decades harnessing its rock band into operatic territory on hits such as "Uprising" and "Starlight," each tailor-made to stretch all the way out to the cheap seats.

Incorporating electronic elements to make them sound much fuller than your ordinary trio, they use synthesizers and dancey pop hooks that show a Depeche Mode influence. But what makes them stand out is the songs' über-theatrical storytelling. Their newest record, 2015's Drones, doesn't include the band's strongest tracks, but they went all out with the concept-album idea, a rarity in this era of playlists. Over the course of 12 tracks, the album that went to the top of the Billboard charts and won a Grammy for best rock album spins a tale of a human weapon: a soldier/drone who is militarized to kill and who eventually questions his orders and then rebels.

Bellamy told Rolling Stone the whole thing was inspired by reading the book Predators: The CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda.  "I didn't know how prolific drone usage has been. I always perceived Obama as an all-around likable guy. But from reading the book, you find out that most mornings he wakes up, has a breakfast, and then goes down to the war room and makes what they call 'kill decisions.'"

That book inspired Bellamy to explore sonically and lyrically the effects of war on its participants in Drones. "It's about someone having something bad happen to them, but they choose not to feel it [and] become dead inside. Then they go on and become vulnerable to these dark, oppressive forces, which are more than happy to take advantage of people like that."

Those ideas are big enough to reach out to the fan sitting on the patch of grass farthest from the stage at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre, where Muse will play Saturday night.

7 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach;; 561-795-8883. Tickets cost $20 to $360 via
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland