More than just modern amusement

By By Danny Letz

By Danny Letz

It’s rough when you’re constantly compared to an overachieving older sibling.

Especially one you admire.

Such has been the case for the British-born Muse, the alt-rock trio that every critic in the world loves to compare to its musical demigod countryman, Radiohead.

Tonight, however, Muse will be given the opportunity to defy that classification live-and in Salt Lake City. The band’s originality will be on display beginning at 7 p.m. inside the Saltair Amphitheatre.

Touring on the heels of the recently released LP Black Holes and Revelations, the band’s first release since the breakthrough Absolution, Muse has a lot of expectations to smash.

One need only glance back at the reviews for Muse’s first three albums to note the continual references to the band’s similarities with Thom Yorke and Co.’s Radiohead; and though Muse members admit to drawing a great deal of influence from their Oxford-helmed brethren, to reduce Muse’s music to mimicry or plagiarism is to do it a great disservice.

Led by singer Matthew Bellamy-whose haunting, coldly charged vocals are rounded out by his distinctive guitar and domineering piano abilities-alongside bassist Chris Wolstenholme and percussionist Dominic Howard, Muse crafts an intricate conglomeration of themes, ranging from the distinctly modern to the romantic and Baroque.

Deep within sweeping movements that push listeners through seemingly classical composures-performed with the rapidity and electronic angst of a true post-modernist-is where Muse finds itself comfortable. Darting like a schizophrenic from the intensely jolting sound of the band’s roughest tracks back toward a soft and loving proclamation of endless devotion, Muse is also never comfortable resting at peace.

The opening chords of Muse’s last two albums are demonstrative of the band’s ability to both kick down the door (as it does in the opening of Absolution’s “Apocalypse Please”) and then serenade the listener into forgetting it ever happened (as with Black Holes’ “Take a Bow”).

What is never present, however, is the timidity that would make a band with half Muse’s fortitude quiver. But, for a band with songs that include “Stockholm Syndrome,” “Apocalypse Please” and “Supermassive Black Hole,” timidity might necessarily be a defunct term.

And despite the droves of depressed tweens with ink-black hair and skin-tight jeans guaranteed to attend tonight’s event, Muse’s performance promises to only confirm the worst of nightmares for critics of the band’s lyrical styling.

With the ample evidence of Muse’s talents resisting them, critics may have to find a new way of critiquing Muse’s abilities-perhaps one that doesn’t involve the word “Radiohead.”

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme, lead singer Matthew Bellamy and percussionist Dominic Howard perch atop an old desk. The band will be at Saltair tonight.