Show me mercy from the powers that be

This past weekend, we attended our first concert of 2016: Muse!

muse

I’ve been a fan of Muse since high school – this was the third time I’ve seen them, and their shows have only become more elaborate and gorgeously done as the years go by. This time around, the stage was set up in the middle of the arena for a 360 effect so that no matter where you were sitting, you had a decent view of the band.

The opening band was X-Ambassadors. I’ve seen them twice before (opening for Panic! at the Disco and then opening for Imagine Dragons a month later), but I haven’t really listened to them. They put on an interesting show: they have a bit of a Kings of Leon vibe and you have to respect any band that includes a saxaphone solo from their frontman in a couple of songs. You may have heard them before – their song “Renegades” is on a commercial for like a truck or a car or something (I can’t remember which one)…you’ll know it when you hear it.

Muse came on just after nine. This tour is in support of their most recent album, 2015’s Drones, so they kicked off the show with back-to-back singles: “Psycho” and “Dead Inside”.

The rest of the set was made up of classics, from “Hysteria” to my favourite Muse song, “Starlight” and the sexy “Time is Running Out” not to mention an unexpected rendition of “Citizen Erased” (before which, frontman Matt Bellamy joked that only “about ten people” in the crowd would recognize it), and, of course, “Supermassive Black Hole”, which is the song that seemed to really get the audience excited. I was also surprised that they ended with “Knights of Cydonia”, but it didn’t stop it from being epic!

Because of the stage’s set up, Bellamy and bassist Chris Wolstenholme were able to run around the circular mainstage and up along the two arms that jutted out, allowing them to face different parts of the crowd. We were lucky to be on the side where the piano was, so that anytime Bellamy sat still long enough to play, he was in front of us. Meanwhile, drummer Dominic Howard was in the centre of the stage which rotated so that he faced a different direction for just about every song. It was wonderfully constructed and the production was so seamless, it sometimes took me a moment or two to realize something had changed, whether it was the descent of the transparent banners that acted as screens on either side of the stage or the clear floating ball things that swung around during certain songs.

drones

This was my (lopsided) view of the stage.

Not only is their music unique and bold, but their live shows are more like a theatrical event than a standard concert. I highly recommend catching a Muse show if you’re able to.

It’s time to begin

If you’ve never heard of Imagine Dragons, you’ve probably been living under a rock without a stable internet connection for the past year.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/11/Imagine_Dragons_2013.jpg

I don’t know their names. Heck, I barely knew what they looked like until yesterday.

They’re another “Ro-band” – we missed them last time they were in town, during the summer, so we made sure to get tickets for yesterday’s show at the ACC (great seats, too: on the side, but an excellent view of the stage).

There were two opening bands: X-Ambassadors (who we saw about a month ago opening for Panic! at the Disco so good on them!) and The Naked and Famous (female-fronted indie band from New Zealand). Both were decent, helped set the mood and got the crowd excited for ID, but probably not bands I would listen to for funsies (I feel like they’re both bands that are much better live than recorded. Also, Ro took a nap during TNAF, which, while not surprising (she’s done it before), was impressive because of the amount of flashing lights coming from the stage).

Imagine Dragons came out at 9pm amidst ear-piercing screams. The band seemed excited to be on stage and the audience matched their enthusiasm (for the most part anyway. Except for the people who must not have ever been to a concert before because they were many shocked/perplexed looks when the arena was suddenly infused with the smell of pot. Meanwhile, I was wondering why no one had lit up sooner).

I’ve only listened to their full length, Night Visions, so there were a handful of songs I didn’t recognize, older songs from their previous EPs. I was, however, very excited when they played my favourite ID song, “It’s Time”:

Now don’t you understand that I’m never changing who I am?

In addition to the steady stream of songs, there were a handful of solos throughout the show – mainly on guitar, but also on drums (and by “drum solos”, I mean every member of the band played a different drum set at the same time). There were a large amount of drums on stage. Different types, different sizes…I’m not drum expert, but even I could see they all served a different purpose. On either side of the stage, a sloped runway led up to a small platform that each held a single drum: during the show, various band members (both guitarists, plus the singer) ran up to the platforms and began pounding away. It was kinda funny to watch how haphazardly they threw around their seemingly endless supply of drumsticks.

Highlights include: the drummer playinga violin (while still sitting behind his drum kit!), plus Dan, the singer, jauntily walking the perimeter of the floor area during “On Top of the World”, looking for all the world like the Pied Piper as half the standing crowd ran after him.

I’m on top of the world!

There were also moments when Dan, paused to thank the crowd for joining them, for giving them a chance, for supporting music and upcoming artists. Sometimes, his voice quavered with emotion (unless that’s just what he sounds like?) as he talked about the years they’d been a band before they made it big, how they never gave up, how they know what it’s like to be in the crowd…but especially emotional was when he dedicated a song to a young fan/friend who passed away from cancer last year, reminding us to appreciate life and live in the moment. It’s refreshing to see a popular band who haven’t lost touch with their roots and who are genuinely grateful for their recent success.

Of course, the song that made them who they are was also one of the best performances of the night. Hearing “Radioactive” live, being one of 19000+ people screaming the words, takes the song to a new level.

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones…

Admittedly, I was disappointed that they failed to use dragon imagery (I was hoping for a holographic dragon at least!), but it was nevertheless a fantastic show.

It was also our last show for a month (next up: Taking Back Sunday on April 8) after 8 shows in 35 days (Jan 28-Mar 4), so post-concert depression should be kicking in any day now…

Swear to shake it up if you swear to listen

WARNING: INTENSE FANGIRLING AHEAD.

I know I’ve waxed eloquent many times on P!ATD’s (vices &) virtues (see what I did there?!), but there is nothing – NOTHING – compared to seeing them live.

Brendon Urie. The first band member I ever truly loved (still do).

This time, my 5th P!ATD show since I started listening to them in 2007, was double exciting because it was Nina’s first time seeing them live!

Despite purposely leaving late to avoid standing in the snow, we still had to line up to get into the Sound Academy (the show was sold out). This involved teaching some drunk girls about the band they were about to see and trying not to fall on the freezing slush.

Due to the line, we missed most of the first opening band (the X-Ambassadors) who seemed like they were fun, but it was hard to tell based on the 2-3 songs that we heard. I don’t know what it is with opening bands, but why do they always insist on playing a slow song? Like, you have 30 minutes to impress me, why slow it down when I’m there to see an energetic head-liner?

The next band, The Colourist, was pretty good; I was especially impressed with their female singer-drummer (I have a huge amount of respect for girl drummers).

Around 9:20, Panic! came out and the crowd went mental. Opening with “Vegas Lights”, they smoothly transitioned to one of the oldest songs in their catalogue: “Time To Dance” (which I credit as the song that turned Ro into a Panic! fan when we first saw them in 2008):

When I say “shotgun”, you say “wedding”.

I would have killed to see them in the A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out era (circa 2005-2007) with the make-up and the circus elements. But they’ve always had very elaborate stage pieces (backdrops, etc), and this time, they were as theatrical as ever: the stained glass background during “This is Gospel”, the huge puffs of smoke, the old-fashioned clocks and cabaret-style images during “Nine in the Afternoon” (the only song played from 2008’s Pretty.Odd.) and “But It’s Better If You Do” (respectively).

It’s nine in the afternoooooon, your eyes are the size of the mooooon.

Well, I’m afraid that I, well I may have faked it and I wouldn’t be caught dead in this place.

The full band (including Panic!’s long-time bassist, Dallon Weekes, whose former band – The Brobecks – are worth looking into) do a great job at keeping the audience entertained, but let’s be real: everyone focuses on the exuberant Brendon Urie. He dances across the stage, pounding the piano, even getting behind the drums at one point, his vocals never faltering (I have always loved Brendon’s voice), not to mention throwing in a couple of backflips (the second one was shirtless. Nina and I almost passed out). And I love that he can still hit that crazy high note in “Camisado”. There’s just something about hearing the older songs live, I can’t quite describe the nostalgia-tinged enjoyment.

Which is not to say that the old songs are the best parts because the new-ish songs from 2011’s Vices & Virtues are just as fun: “Ready To Go” is always guaranteed to make me dance and playing “Nearly Witches” right before the encore was the perfect way to break up the set (bonus: “New Perspective”, the first song they released after Ryan Ross/Jon Walker left in 2009). Songs from 2013’s Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die (aka the album they’re touring for) were equally well-received. My favourite Too Weird song, “Casual Affair”, was played just before the halfway point in the set – as a song that focuses more on instrumentation than vocals, I wasn’t sure how it would sound live, but it was phenomenal. I even appreciated their second-to-last song, “Girls/Girls/Boys” more live than compared to the album version.

Of course, Panic! can’t avoid playing the song that made them famous. So, after running around looking for his misplaced joint, Brendon closed the show with a rousing, mainly-audience-sung, rendition of “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”.

What a shame the poor groom’s bride is a whore.