Muse, with Razorlight

On record, Muse crafts profoundly moving ballads. Singer Matthew Bellamy's falsetto trembles as if windblown, and the band's symphonic slow-dance melodies could jerk tears from a stone. In concert, though, the group converts this intense emotional energy into pure volume. Like Queen, their equally melodramatic countrymen, Muse's members are live killers, performing with grandeur. On Absolution, last year's best rock album, Muse explored existential dread ("Apocalypse Please," "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist") with heavy hearts and crackling guitars. That album catalyzed the group's American breakthrough, but its set lists also include material from 2001's import-only Origin of Symmetry and 1999's sterling, overlooked debut, Showbiz, most notably the surging sci-fi paranoia epic "Space Dementia" and the throbbing, frantic "Muscle Museum." The albums are like beautifully crafted letters from a long-distance lover, and the mind-blowing shows are the reunion and the consummation.
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Andrew Miller