Muse / Evanescence @ Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, TX

Words and photos by Scott Rowe
If you've followed MTC MAG for a while, you would have probably seen my reference to Muse in a handful, if not several, concert reviews. I hold their live shows in high regard as they are able to combine first-class production with top-notch musicianship and an unbridled energy that elevates their music to stadium-sized levels. While in most of the world, they would be playing large-scale festivals and actual stadiums, here in the States, they still have been relegated to the confines of arenas but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as with the latter, they would be mere ants on a tiny stage, but their arena tours give fans a more intimate spectacle with the same stadium-sized performance. Touring off their latest release, 2022's Will of the People, Muse make their triumphant return to the States while brining the amazing Evanescence in support.

While searching for the entrance to the photo pit (backstage), we hear the roar of the crowd, as Evanescence take the stage a bit early. We emerge from backstage to hear the band in full effect at they are performing "Broken Pieces Shine", the second track from their latest album, 2021's The Bitter Truth. While I've always appreciated Evanescence's sound and catalog, I had yet seen them perform live; vocalist Amy Lee made sure to point out that the next day would be the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Fallen, which was released March 4th of 2003. So it's taken me nearly 20 years to finally see this band and I've got to say, shame on me. They are phenomenal live.  For me, it starts and ends with Lee, as her voice is synonymous with Evanescence's sound and she has a powerful voice that soars through the arena. Their hour-long set included 14 songs that leaned heaviest on The Bitter Truth, performing six songs from it but their most celebrated moments of their set were their most popular songs which included "Call Me When You're Sober" and "Going Under". Again, for me, when Lee's presence is the forefront of the performance, it takes it up another level and that holds true for the solo performance of "My Immortal", which she sang with her piano before being joined by the entire band to finish the song. Amazing stuff. They finished their set with their most famous song, "Bring Me to Life", an alternative rock staple and one that will continue to build their fanbase for years to come.

I know some will find this repetitive, but I also had the same sentiment the last time Muse came into town. Their live shows are consistent and rarely falter, but their albums have been more of a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get. I felt this way about Simulation Theory but their live execution of those songs made for a fun show. I have the same sort of feeling coming into this tour and the album of the same namesake, Will of the People. I loved the emergence of metal Muse with their first single, "Won't Stand Down", which is one of the heavier songs Muse has produced and contained a glimmer of hope for a sound that was more like that of their earlier days (see "New Born", "Dead Star", "Micro Cuts", "Citizen Erased"). But after hearing their second single, "Compliance", I felt like there was still of hint of Simulation Theory hanging around. It's just a track that I didn't feel and still don't, but I know coming into this show, that a live performance can change everything.

The theme of the night becomes a story of the 'Will of the People' displayed on video screens and once the story begins, the band emerges from the darkness in front of a flame-emblazoned sign with the initials of WOTP before jumping into the album's title track. This is where all of my doubts fade away. Once vocalist/guitarist Matt Bellamy ripping into the song, I know that I'm going to enjoy this show, even all of their newer material that I was on the fence about. All members adorned mirrored masks that are a mainstay of the night's story, but adds a bit of flair to the opening song of the night. This band never disappoints and their sound was larger than life, pumping throughout Dickies Arena. The first stretch of songs are quite the combination including the classics "Hysteria" and "Bliss", and the aforementioned "Won't Stand Down" which is one of my favorite performances of the night. Bellamy's guitar shredding is on par with some of his best stuff and Chris Wolstenholme's bass is on some sort of overdrive, as the sound and feel of the song downright shakes your body. During this song, you get taste of the amount of pyro that will be used throughout the night, something Muse hasn't taken advantage of in tours past.

The next few songs do create a bit of a lull, as much as I wanted to like their performance of "Compliance", the song still didn't do anything for me. Though during "Compliance", the emergence of a large masked individual from night's story reaches out from behind the band; 2023 Murph the Robot. "Thought Contagion" is still a good song live, but the performance of "Verona" was also definitely a highlight. The atmospheric sound, something you would have found on Black Holes & Revelations, was a welcome transition and the accompanying burst of confetti was the icing on the cake. The 23-song set (sorry, not including "Interlude" as a song) was a good diet of their older material including "Supermassive Black Hole", "Time is Running Out", and "Plug In Baby", but the band did focus a good amount on songs (7) from Will of the People. Songs like "You Make Me Feel Like It's Halloween" and "We are Fucking Fucked" are fun and sound good live, but much like "Compliance", just miss the mark a little bit. That doesn't take away anything from tonight's performance, as I'm still standing in awe of this band and what they're capable of doing onstage.

The band ends it's set with nice stretch including "Uprising", "Prelude", and the set-closing "Starlight". While I think "Starlight" is a nice choice with its singalong capabilities, I would have liked to see something with an exclamation point like "Stockholm Syndrome", "Map of the Problematique", or even something like "Algorithm". But my exclamation point was in waiting during the encore, as after a brief JFK monologue, the band returned to the stage standing in front of one of the night's antagonists, a giant bull or devilish figure; another Murph-sized prop. The literal scorching tandem of "Kill or Be Killed" and "Knights of Cydonia" far exceeded my expectations for the night's close. With lots of pyro and killer riffs, the band blew the roof off of the arena and stamped this show with a mighty exclamation point. Like I said earlier, this band rarely disappoints and while I personally may not like each and every song, their overall product is always masterclass and keeps me wanting more.

Photos of the show are below:

Muse / Evanescence @ Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, TX Muse / Evanescence @ Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on March 06, 2023 Rating: 5
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