Muse's stop at Sunrise for 2nd Law tour

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

Grabbing tickets to see Muse was pretty much a no-brainer. I'd already seen them twice and, despite the changes they've made with their music, I am still willing to attend their shows. And then, big surprise, they added a night at Sunrise in South Florida (this is kind of a big deal; they don't come down here often).

I'd heard plenty of great things about the show before I even drove up to the BB&T Center. Lasers, strobe lights, crazy set up with lots of display panels, and a set list that varies a bit from show to show. It had the potential for greatness and, in fantastic Muse fashion, delivered.

The first majorly positive thing about seeing Muse live is that their show is on time. We're used to seeing 7:30 on a ticket and resigning to the fact that the show probably won't start until 9 or beyond. At 7:30, the opening act was rockin', and we didn't have to wait too long before Muse strode on stage after that. They wowed everyone with their spaceship-like stage set up, which featured a ring of panels (served as screens) and lights, with the drum kit on a raised platform in the middle and an extra tour member next to that with the synthesizer.

After the first number ("Unsustainable"), we see that the rigging over the stage was another series of screens which, accordion-like, stretched down over Dom and the drum kit at the center of the stage. The screens and the overall feel of the stage with its lights and many panels changed for every song, creating a unique experience every time. At one point, the stage even turned into an elaborate roulette with the song "New Born" assigned to red and "Stockholm Syndrome" to black, as the game randomly chose which song would be played next. "Syndrome" won, but I think the crowd would have still cheered just as loudly for "New Born."

They didn't spend too much time talking, instead inserting lovely little instrumental interludes between chunks of their set list. First, it was Matt Bellamy with an electric "Star-Spangled Banner" to segway into "Bliss," and later Chris took out his harmonica and played a bit before cruising into "Knights of Cydonia." Dom got his spotlight for the first encore, which featured him in a Game of Death-style track suit (except red) on the video screen, banging on a taiko drum to the beat of "Uprising" and fighting off chumps while the band was concealed in a pyramid of screens. The screens eventually rise up again and give way to the players, and Dom actually comes out in the red suit and keeps it for the remainder of the show.

There were lasers, there were lights... even the Baby Grand that Matt Bellamy brought out to play just one song with had some lights on it. It was pretty rad, actually. The lights came up on the piano's lid as he struck the keys! I just wish he'd sat down to play more, but then I suppose there'd have been no point to the fourth band member on stage. That or he'd have to brush up on his piano-and-guitar-together playing skills.

Even if you aren't so hot on Muse's newer music from Black Holes and beyond, I still think they're worth watching live. They never cease to impress, and they always dedicate plenty of show time to their older albums that we all know and love. Here's a look at the set list for the South Florida show with a few notes here and there:

  • 1) Unsustainable
  • 2) Supremacy
  • 3) Supermassive Black Hole
  • 4) Panic Station
  • 5) Resistance (big whoop from the crowd when this started; lots of dancing)
  • 6) Beautiful Star-Spangled Banner interlude - to Bliss
  • 7) Animals (the stage turned into a stock market-looking thing for this one)
  • 8) Chris played a harmonica intro then - Knights of Cydonia
  • 9) Monty Jam
  • 10) Explorers (performed by Matt on the piano)
  • 11) Follow Me
  • 12) Liquid State (sung by Chris)
  • 13) Madness
  • 14) Undisclosed Desires
  • 15) Time is Running Out (everyone lost their minds when this one came up)
  • 16) Stockholm Syndrome (extended outro and stage-exit)
  • 17) first encore: Isolated System played on screens before band returned
  • 18) Uprising
  • 19) second encore: Starlight (cute thing: a girl in the audience was singing and she was put on camera)
  • 20) Survival (the most Queen-like song on 2nd law)

Needless to say, I wouldn't hesitate to grab tickets to a future show if I have the chance to see Muse again. From what I can tell, they still have a few stops in Japan this coming August, so I'm already debating grabbing tickets to see this same show in Japan later this year. How cool is that? I've never "followed" a tour anywhere to see more than one stop of the same show before. I wouldn't mind doing that for Muse.

All images in this post are taken with my handy dandy iPhone! Please don't repost without attribution. Thanks! 

Maná: Drama y Luz live in Miami

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

Spanish rock band Maná made waves when they released their single "Lluvia al Corazón" from the recent Drama y Luz album, particularly because it'd been a few years since their last album was released (Amar es Combatir in 2006). I was fortunate to catch them in concert for their last tour and last night I saw them take the stage again for Drama y Luz.

Pretty much everything they played was a hit that everyone could sing along to. Most of the tracks have graced the air waves enough times that even folks who don't buy the albums would be able to keep up throughout the show. Combine that with excellent visuals and a Latino crowd, and you basically had an almost three-hour dance party.

The show opened with Beethoven's 5th Symphony which led into the first song on their set list, "Oye Mi Amor," and flowed through to a few high-energy tunes until they settled right into "Lluvia al Corazón," at which point the veil over the stage had images of rain, a butterfly and a heart projected onto it. The stage itself was set with a few panels in the back and that veil coming up and down as needed. It was simple, but pretty much perfect since Maná doesn't really need a lot of extra trimmings to keep the crowd entertained.

Some of the highlights for me included Alex González's 10-minute drum solo, which is a sight to behold and needs to be experienced. I go to a lot of shows, and I've had people ask me about impressive drummers. Alex has been at the top of my list ever since I saw him the first time. He basically plays on a platform that can move about a little, be raised high over the stage and spin. When he isn't doing his drum solo, he's dancing with his drum kit and doing everything he can to catch your attention while laying on some serious beats. He also chugged about half a bottle of beer halfway through his spotlight.

Everyone else, of course, is a great performer in their own right. Guitarist Sergio Vallín had some delightful solos which were all inspired by classical music. It reminded me of the kind of stuff we hear by Malmsteen or The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He also played beautifully when, after kicking some butt on stage and hearing Alex's drum solo, he and Fher (the frontman) switched over to a platform at the back of the stadium floor to play an intimate acoustic set.

At some point during the first part of the show, Alex introduced someone who is from Miami and won a contest to play live with Maná. He looked very nervous as he joined the stage with his guitar and some of the coolest rock stars I know, but they played a nice, long number to showcase him and make it fun for everyone watching, too. Unfortunately, I didn't catch his name, but it's great to see folks get spotlit like that. He even had a face-off with Sergio. Live. On Stage. How cool is that?

After the acoustic set, they went back to the stage for yet another segment and then, finally, the encore. There were very few points during the entire performance that people had a break to sit down and enjoy a ballad since Maná kept the energy high throughout. It was sad to see them stop, but before we knew it, almost three hours had passed and they'd been playing non-stop. The only break the band got was Alex's solo, and even after that, Alex joined in to the acoustic set a couple of songs in.

Would I see them a third time? You bet. Should you see them live? Absolutely. Even if you aren't too familiar with their music, if you're a rock enthusiast and you enjoy hearing great arrangements and seeing good performers at work, this might be the show for you to get into something new. Seeing them live is not what you'd expect by just hearing their songs on the radio, after all.

Besides, their shows usually have a good message. They're all about equal rights for all, knowing where you come from and conservation in general. I am always happy to support artists that use their influence to spread the word around in a positive way.

(view the entire set list here)

[images taken with my handy-dandy iPhone 4S]

Radiohead: Still rockin' it

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

Last night I sat at the nosebleed section to see Radiohead in Miami. I'm glad I did, since not only did their U.S. tour kick off here, but they debut some new music and delivered some oldies in the mix that we all know and love. As it turns out, they played a song they've never performed, too ("Meeting in the Aisle" from OK Computer). The first link contains a full set list if you're interested in that kind of thing.

Radiohead is a example of a group that sounds great on the home entertainment system, but even better live. Nothing beats enjoying the ambiance a band can create with their music and stage effects, and I've not seen many performers with the energy Thom Yorke has onstage. It's nothing but fun no matter where you are in the arena.

This is my second time seeing Radiohead live and I'll probably go for it a third time if and when they return. I had my reservations seeing them again since their music has changed a bit over the years, and I do much prefer their older stuff, but I was still blown away at the performance.

The show has a theme and a flow to it

that is well crafted and thought out, rather than just a random selection of their music. It's a lot of music, by the way, and Thom mentioned at the beginning of the show that they have something like 70+ songs at the ready for this tour.

The jazzy feel of the show was refreshing and mesmerizing at the same time, not to mention well-complemented by the stage effects. I've mentioned them twice already because they were spectacular. The stage had the full display background as well as several smaller, square displays that would change positions for each number. They'd change colors and all that, but the squares would show the faces of the performers and pulse with the beat of the music.

Everything about the production complemented the music.

While most of the show was concentrated with their more recent albums, they did as I mentioned before mix in older songs that went with the theme and meshed well with the feel of it (and in a way, told us a story). That and, they left everyone on a very good note by closing with "Karma Police" at the end of their second encore. They didn't just close with it, Thom Yorke got everyone singing the chorus after their bow-outs and they walked offstage to the tune.

Radiohead is a performance I'd recommend to anyone who likes the feel of their music, whether they are too familiar with it or not (particularly their recent King of Limbs and In Rainbows). If you're into the jazzy stuff and like rock as well, this is the concert for you.

It's a great show for hardcore and new fans alike. Don't miss it!

[Buy The King of Limbs | In Rainbows]

[images taken with my handy iPhone]

You suck at 'hype'

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

I have rarely had the distinct pleasure of attending a concert and watching a fantastic band play non-stop for three hours. On the other hand, I don't go to shows that are three hours late very often, either. Such is the "magic" of what is currently known as Guns N' Roses (though it should probably be called the Axl Rose Project, as my boyfriend dubbed it).

As a whole, I would say that seeing them live was a blast. The music was great (sounded wonderful) and of course we know a lot of their famous tunes because they're always on the radio. I found Axl's performance severely lacking, even putting his enormous ego aside, yet I still managed to have a good time listening to the good musicians he had surrounded himself with.

For starters, each musician besides the drummer got to perform a song on their own in order to showcase their skills. This is something I've never seen before and, frankly, more bands should do it. The most I see them ever give the band members is a break during a song for some free-style. Since GnR consists of eight members (that I saw), there were seven numbers which were stylistic, interesting covers performed to the strengths of whoever was showcasing themselves. The bassist even sang his own solo! It was just good fun.

I was surprised to hear stuff like The Who and the Pink Panther theme come up at different points of the show. It was refreshing, and gave the group members a lot of personality. In a way, I feel like it was necessary for each member to express themselves considering the group had gone through so much change. How do you stand out as you are unless you figure out how to break the mold? It was brilliant.

As I mentioned before, Axl was disappointing. He changed outfits no less than seven times in the course of the show, and tossed aside his mic stand even more times (to the chagrin of a poor crew member who had to go, pick it up and place it at a designated spot each time). I don't think even female pop stars change that many times (unless it's Lady Gaga), yet the effect was intensely enhanced by the fact that we could barely hear Axl at all. I'm not sure what sort of sound issues they were having, but the band sounded great while Axl himself was simply drowned out.

At the end of the day I wasn't too torn up about the sound. There's only so much that excessive tee, hat and jacket changes or painfully excessive pyrotechnics can do for your show when the front man isn't as energetic as he should be. I think Axl is just getting old.

While I'm happy that I had the experience, I won't be repeating it. Our night was such that we could have probably argued our way to a ticket refund since our seats were barfed on when we arrived at the venue and had to relocate besides the horrific wait. We ended up sitting in the handicap area at the back of our section, which was great (no heads in front of us, or getting up every time someone needs to go by). The downside was, of course, we were even further away from the stage than where we started. By the time 3 a.m. rolled along though, we were so beat we just wanted to go home.

Again, I did find the show to be very entertaining. Is it worth waiting until midnight to enjoy, three hours past the ticket time and two hours past the end of the first act? That depends on how much you like the band or want to see them for the sake of posterity or nostalgia (though I would argue that for nostalgia's sake, you'd be mightily disappointed). I had two reasons for going: First, I was invited; and second, posterity. In my case, I feel immensely satisfied. The show really was great fun, after all! I just felt exhausted by the end of it (I'd been downtown for seven hours at this point).

The hype certainly was a failure, and by midnight the crowd had broken out "booing" several times. Sorry, Axl, but that's not cool. "You suck at hype!"