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Muse w/ The Zutons (Monday, November 15th, 2004, Quest Club, Minneapolis)
Muse at Islington Academy, London September 2003. Photo by Andrew Future, copyright Virtual Festivals

By Jesse Norell

Muse’s show w/ The Zutons at the Quest was one of the shows moved from First Avenue during its temporary closing, so I can only imagine how this show would have been at that venue (or in their homeland of the U.K. for that matter). At the Quest, I heard the concert and I saw some of it on the TV screens, but if I’d had a decent view it would have been a whole different experience.

The Zutons opened up the show with some uneventful Lynyrd-Skynyrd-plus-a-saxophone rock. In fairness though, the band did have some fun vocal jams.

45 minutes later, Muse took the stage and opened with an extended version of “Butterflies & Hurricanes.” Singer/guitarist Matthew Bellamy moved to the back of the stage to play the ostentatious classical interlude that finishes the song on the keyboard. Bellamy stayed there to play the intro the next song, a personal favorite of mine, “Newborn,” that begins with an evil circus-style keyboard and bass line before the guitar and drums come thrashing in. The energy for this song was amazing as it was for the entire show. Instead of just playing the guitar solo for “Newborn,” for example, Bellamy kicked on some crazy effect and went absolutely ape on it. There were moments I would have liked it if Bellamy had stuck to the recorded parts, as Muse concerts are so noisy and feedback-laden as it is. But I guess when you have so many toys (Bellamy has some sort of touch-pad effect built into the body of one of his guitars) you have to play with them.

The crowd really seemed to enjoy this show. There was a lot of crowd surfing and hopping around, but not so much singing along that it drowned out the band (as was the case when I saw them in Chicago in April).

It was about this time I decided to put in my earplugs as the highs in the mix were hurting my ears. I’m convinced that the sound techs at the Quest must also wear earplugs because everything sounded 10 times better when I put mine in.

“Muscle Museum” was the only song Muse played off their first album Showbiz. It sounds like a reggae remix of a Legend of Zelda ( ) dungeon level with a fat, melodic chorus. Bellamy switched to a seven-string guitar for “Citizen Erased.” On their last trip through the U.S., he jumped, fell, and smashed his face on his guitar during this song, which nearly canceled the Chicago show a few days later. It seemed like Bellamy was even less reserved this time when they played this song. It may be the only song worthy of smashing your face on something.

Muse seemed to make a set change and played the last track off their newest album Absolution called “Ruled by Secrecy.” The beginning was exaggeratedly quiet with just keyboard and vocals, then became ridiculously loud with overdriven bass and drums---all with a waltz feel.

The concert had already been good so far, but Muse stepped it up to a new level after ten songs. They played a short funk groove that served as the intro to their most popular U.S. song, “Time Is Running Out.” Chris Wolstenholme’s bass sounded like a distorted moog just like on the CD, which means he was either faking it and Muse plays to a tape, or he’s the greatest bass player in the world. The crowd loved it, and Muse fed off the energy.

The band closed with “Bliss,” putting everything they had into it. It featured Bellamy playing on the floor, swinging his guitar around, digging into his guitar with his elbow locked like Green Day, and doing a vocal freak-out over one entire chorus.

The band played two encores: “Plug in Baby” from Origin of Symmetry (their second and, in my opinion, best album) and finally “Stockholm Syndrome.” At the end of the final encore, latex bubbles filled with confetti were dropped from the balcony. I jumped up and popped one with my pen---such fun! In Chicago Muse did one post-ending jam. This time, the pandemonium was such that they did three of them. It was obvious they had lots of fun at this show.

Muse Setlist - The Quest, Minneapolis - 11/15/04

1. Butterflies and Hurricanes
2. Newborn
3. The Small Print
4. Sing for Absolution
5. Muscle Museum
6. Citizen Erased
7. Ruled by Secrecy
8. Apocalypse Please
9. Hysteria
10. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist
- Groove Interlude
11. Time is Running Out
12. Bliss
13. Plug in Baby
14. Stockholm Syndrome