Muse Delivers Electric Set At Friday Bonnaroo Show

Muse performing on the What Stage at Bonnaroo on June 8, 2018. Photo by Mike Stewart

Electric. The most apt word to describe Muse’s performance on the What stage last night at Bonnaroo.

The British three-piece band, who has been rocking since 1994, walked out in their typical glamour and glitz, with Mohawks, L.E.D.-configured guitars and basses, a brass-colored drum set, and astounding visuals.

Considering the group has not released an album since 2015’s Drones, there was the concern that the crowd might not respond well to the tunes. But that didn’t seem to be the case, as the multitudes sang along to “Super Massive Black Hole,” “Hysteria,” and “Plug in Baby.”

Matt Bellamy absolutely shredded from start to finish, often looking bored on stage as he effortlessly ran his fingers up and down the fretboard, at one point just resorting to smacking the guitar on his amp, creating synthesized guitar effects and crushing distorted riffs. Not to mention those spine-shivering ghostly falsetto notes.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme delivered so much bass the affair resembled an EDM  show at certain points, including intros for songs such as “Uprising” and “Time Is Running Out.” For tracks like “Maddness,” he brought out the double-necked bass guitar with an iPad serving as the pick guard for the top neck, tapping the screen to create the, “Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma … Madness” effect.

What is there to say for drummer Dominic Howard, other than his impeccable rhythm and timing are nothing short of astounding? He handles a sort of double-duty playing both regular drums as well as an electronic drum pad attached to the set.

Throughout the night, the band moved with ease and proficiency between songs, with guitar changes and the seamless video transitions behind them. The monitors went back and forth between crazy futuristic and brightly colored geometric designs, depictions of policemen in riot gear, bodies composing and decomposing around a digital shell, and live footage of the performers and the crowd with distorted visuals inlaid over top of the live footage.

Muse was met with a crowd jacked up on stimulants and alcohol, and they knew it. The crowd ate up the performance, staying once the set was over, begging for an encore which Muse could not deny them, wrapping with favorites  “Uprising” and “Knights of Cydonia.”