Turns out, Muse does rock

Muse is set to raise the KeyArena roof at 7 p.m. today.
Muse is set to raise the KeyArena roof at 7 p.m. today.

Muse, it appears I judged you far too harshly at first.

In 2003, around the time U.S. breakthrough “Absolution” hit our shores, I wrote you off as yet another British Radiohead clone, Brit-pop’s answer to Godsmack.

A couple of years later, I made fun of my next-door neighbor who had developed an unnatural obsession with your music, yet still couldn’t tell the difference between you and your most obvious influence.

“Muse!” she once exclaimed, her eyes lighting up as the opening riff from Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” came on at a party. At which point I figured I’d pretty much won that whole Muse vs. Radiohead debate we’d been having.

Fast forward to present and I must admit it: I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid; I’ve renounced my Muse-dissing ways and acknowledged their brilliance.

And having missed the trio’s supposedly dynamic live show the past couple of times they were in the area, I’m stoked about tonight’s performance at Seattle’s KeyArena. Having L.A.’s excellent Silversun Pickups there for support doesn’t hurt.

And here are just a few reasons for my change of heart about the Muse:

 • Duh! Muse sounds kind of like Radiohead.

I know, I know. Hypocrite! Flip-flopper! I’ve just wasted the first part of my column blathering on about how ripping off Radiohead was a bad thing.

But I must now admit that “ripping off” was a bit strong, and that the comparison to the finest from Oxford, England, is kind of superficial.

For me, it’s based on how front man Matthew Bellamy’s operatic, nasal crooning sounds a bit like Thom Yorke on steroids; also, how Muse, like Radiohead, blurs the line between dramatic alt-rock and electronic music. Muse might even do the latter more seamlessly since the contrast between the melodic and glitchy bits on some Radiohead albums can be jarring (see also: “Hail to the Thief.”)

There’s a lot more to meet the eye when it comes to Muse – crunchy, metal riffs (a la “Stockholm Syndrome,” soaring, operatic highs. They’re kind of in the same aesthetic food group. And it’s nice to have “Black Holes and Revelations” and last year’s “The Resistance” to spin while Radiohead is piddling around in the studio. And speaking of “The Resistance” …

 • Muse does a killer Queen.

The trio – also bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard – isn’t being coy about who they are channeling this time around. From the harmonic outbursts of the title track to that bombastic bridge from “The United States of Eurasia,” all that’s missing from “The Resistance” is “Galileo! Galileo!”

A bit derivative, yeah, but a good influence for an arena rock band to have; and new material is good enough to earn a seal of approval from Queen’s Brian May who told BBC News “I like the way they let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artists. (And) like us they have their tongue in cheek a lot of the time.”

 • You say “Madness,” Brian May, I say “awesomeness.”

With hipsters always complaining about which Pitchfork-approved bands are the most “authentic,” Muse’s over-the-top arena rock ambitions are kind of refreshing.

These guys write songs that are epic, space operas with towering falsettos and nods to Chopin. Sure, they can stray into pretentious territory, but if a few spins of “The Resistance” don’t make you want to storm the Bastille, you might not have a pulse. Anyway, I’ve managed to miss them the last couple of times they’ve visited Puget Sound, so I’m pretty excited.

See you there tonight, and don’t forget to follow on Twitter@ TacomaRockCity and Tacoma Rock City, for commentary on the show.


Ben Union headlines one of this weekend’s hottest club shows, a release party for his new full-length CD “The Light.” He’ll have support from Colonies and Benjamin Doerr starting at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jazzbones;

 • In the Dome District that same night, Seattle-Tacoma sludge rockers Helms Alee, will rock the New Frontier Lounge with support from Bellingham garage-rockers, Sugar Sugar Sugar. Music will start at 9ish; www.thenew

Ernest Jasmin: 253-274-7389