Muse over­shad­ows Leto in con­cert

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Jim Har­ring­ton jhar­ring­ton@ba­yare­anews­group.com

A ca­pac­ity crowd of some 22,000 fans turned out to wit­ness the po­tent dou­ble­header of Muse and Thirty Sec­onds to Mars on Fri­day night at the Shoreline Amphitheatre at Moun­tain View.

Both acts de­liv­ered en­joy­able sets, but Muse was by far the bet­ter of the two. Of course, that’s not sur­pris­ing, given that very few bands can com­pete with Muse on a live stage.

Fol­low­ing a short set by Mas­sachusetts rock­ers PVRIS (pro­nounced Paris), Thirty Sec­onds to Mars took the stage and be­gan to race through tracks from its four-al­bum back cat­a­log as well as new ma­te­rial.

The band was led by multi-tal­ented Re­nais­sance rocker Jared Leto, who many know first and fore­most as an ac­claimed ac­tor. The Louisiana na­tive has starred in such films as “Dal­las Buyers Club,” in which he de­liv­ered an Os­car-win­ning per­for­mance as a trans­gen­der woman, and “Sui­cide Squad,” which might just be the worst comic book movie of all time.

Leto looked like he got dressed in the dark in the wardrobe room of a com­mu­nity the­ater com­pany as he made his ap­pear­ance wear­ing a sparkly blue su­per­hero cap, sun­glasses, ten­nis shoes and a kilt over some­thing re­sem­bling pa­jama bot­toms.

As a front man, Leto was the most in­ter­est­ing as­pect of the band, so dom­i­nat­ing the live ex­pe­ri­ence that it made the rest of the play­ers seem like lit­tle more than wall­pa­per. He also was able to el­e­vate the mu­sic in a way that he is un­able to do in the stu­dio, pro­vid­ing both drama and sig­nif­i­cance to what are oth­er­wise com­mon­place are­narock an­thems.

Leto had barely been on­stage for a minute or so when he de­cided it was time to ven­ture into the crowd, set­ting up shop about half way through the 100-sec­tion and belt­ing out “This Is War.”

He was in a talk­a­tive mood through­out the set, drop­ping a steady string of F-bombs (even in front of the young kids and other fans he’d bring on­stage to­ward the end of the show) and do­ing such things as urg­ing peo­ple to call lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion Live 105 and re­quest the band’s latest sin­gle. And he just loved to hear the crowd roar in ap­proval of his ef­forts.

He’d make it out to the fans in the 200 sec­tion later in the set, grab­bing an acous­tic gui­tar and croon­ing “The Kill (Bury Me),” then re­turned to the main stage for a fine take on “Walk on Wa­ter” from the band’s up­com­ing fifth al­bum.

Next up was the mighty Muse, which man­aged to com­pletely over­shadow what Thirty Sec­onds had ac­com­plished within, well, about 30 sec­onds.

Muse — which ranks as ar­guably the most pow­er­ful trio in main­stream rock — rock­eted into ac­tion with a pow­er­ful take on the new cut “Dig Down” and then man­aged to up the ante with “Psy­cho,” from the band’s most re­cent al­bum, “Drones.”

Leto may have the Hol­ly­wood hunk an­gle go­ing for him, but he’s no Matthew Bel­lamy, who de­mands the crowd’s at­ten­tion with both his stel­lar singing voice (one of the best in rock) and his gui­tar-hero an­tics.

Muse spent some time early in the set with mu­sic from its third stu­dio al­bum, 2003’s “Ab­so­lu­tion,” revving up the ea­ger crowd even higher with “Hys­te­ria” and other cuts.

The band — which also in­cludes the all-gal­axy rhythm team of bassist Chris Wol­sten­holme and drum­mer Do­minic Howard — is known for putting on some elab­o­rate stage pro­duc­tions. But this wasn’t on eof them. In­stead, the stage de­sign was strik­ingly bare (by Muse stan­dards), but that just al­lowed the fans to con­cen­trate more fully on the three band mem­bers (and one back­ing mu­si­cian).

One of the high­lights of the night (if not much longer than that) was Muse’s smash­ing take on “Su­per­mas­sive Black Hole,” which Bel­lamy opened with a mu­si­cal tease of the “Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind” theme. It was slip­pery slick, su­per funky and un­de­ni­ably sexy — ba­si­cally com­ing across like the best Prince song that Prince never wrote.

In all, it was an­other pow­er­ful per­for­mance by one of the most tal­ented acts in the business. Hope­fully, Leto stuck around and took notes be­cause Thirty Sec­onds to Mars — as well as so many other bands — could re­ally learn a lot by watch­ing Muse.

STAFF FILE PHOTO

Matt Bel­lamy of the band Muse dom­i­nated Fri­day’s show with his dy­namic vo­cals and gui­tar per­for­mance.

COURTESY PHOTO

Jared Leto dom­i­nated Thirty Sec­onds To Mars’ show.

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