SALT LAKE CITY — At this point, it’s hard to imagine Muse not in an arena.
The British rock band, which headlines Vivint Arena on Feb. 28, has become synonymous with the massive venues in which it’s played over the past 15 years. Between 2003 and 2009, Muse won just about every British award that’s given out for live rock performance: best live act at the 2005 and 2007 BRIT Awards; best live band at the 2005, 2008 and 2009 NMA Awards; best live act at the Q Awards in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
Simply put, Muse is arena rock.
It wasn’t always that way, though.
“That first arena tour we did was quite shocking, because we didn’t know whether we could pull it off,” Muse drummer Dominic Howard told the Deseret News during a recent phone interview. The band was touring for “Absolution,” its third album, which propelled them to international fame in 2004. Its big singles, “Hysteria” and “Time Is Running Out,” were tailor-made for the enormous crowds Muse began attracting.
“I think we certainly felt a little bit self-conscious in such a big environment — how can we make this great for all those people who are miles away in the back?,” Howard continued. “I mean, going from a club to an arena is such a big jump. You either kind of embrace it or think it’s awful. We were scared, but we wanted to embrace it.”
And embrace it they did. In the five studio albums Muse has released since then, the band has made the gargantuan, apocalyptic melodrama of “Absolution” its blueprint. Muse’s newest album, last year’s “Simulation Theory,” injects some 1980s atmospherics (synths, lasers, etc.) into Muse’s DNA. The album’s neon-lit cover looks exactly like an alternate poster for “Ready Player One.”
When Muse comes to Vivint Arena, those aesthetics will be made manifest. Howard said the pyrotechnics will incorporate additional singers, instrumentalists, actors and dancers — to a degree “that no other rock band has really done.”
“It’s definitely just going to be way more theatrical than anything we’ve done before," he said. “It’s going to look like what the album artwork looks like. And that artwork is obviously very colorful and neon and action-packed.”
Action-packed — Howard and company know a thing or two about that. It’s been Muse’s stock in trade for the past two decades. Still, the guys have learned some things.
“Well, we definitely don’t smash up as much gear as we used to,” Howard said. “We used to just destroy the stage completely. But we kind of realized that in bigger venues, you kick over the drum kit and as soon as all the mics fall off, it doesn’t matter how hard you smash up the drum kit, no one can hear it.”
If you go …
What: Muse's "Simulation Theory World Tour"
When: Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Vivint Arena, 301 S. Temple
How much: $59-$229+