I’ve tried, for over a year, to write about the MUSE concert I went to in Italy. But nothing I’ve ever written has ever sufficiently described my experience, and I’ve always abandoned it after just a paragraph or two.
I think it’s because there are no words available to convey the kind of emotional experience you have at a music concert. Or any event that you personally experience, with all the things YOU bring to the event influencing you, including (as the biggest factor) your own emotional response to the music.
The best word I can find is EPIC. That’s a word I see college kids throwing around these days, and it means little to me outside of the literary meaning of a great long hero’s journey across a thousand pages of a novel. But … I think in my case the Muse concert may have been just that journey, and that’s why it felt so epic to me.
I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to go to a concert down the street. I did do such a thing once, actually … my friend invited me, at the last minute, to see Bon Jovi in concert in Milwaukee several years ago, and that turned out to be my favorite concert ever until Muse. Jon Bon Jovi is just a very smart businessman with a lot of good music who knows how to run a show. Muse … well, Muse may very well be the same, but my experience was more than just discovering a good band playing a good show. My journey to the concert was long and eventful and, well, a great long journey across a thousand pages of my life.
I first discovered Muse in the spring of 2004, when my son was in middle school. He played me one of their songs in the car as I dropped him off at school one morning. I believe it was “Butterflies and Hurricanes.” It was, in itself, a rather epic song, very long, with a great piano solo in the middle of a hard alternative rock sound. OK, I guess I don’t know music genres very well, but it wasn’t the “alternative” I was used to, as in “acoustic guitar guy at open mic night.” And it wasn’t the hard rock hair band sound of my youth. It wasn’t even Linkin Park screaming rock. It was its own thing, a mix of barely controlled high energy protest song and a nice, beautiful, almost symphonic orchestration. And I liked it.
And I played it over and over for the next few weeks. I explored the rest of the CD and found “Thoughts of a Dying Atheist,” and pretty soon I was listening to nearly the whole CD all the time. I listened to the Absolution album all that spring, all that summer. It took me through the Orlando Fringe Festival, through my first gig as Music Director for a community theatre. I found Origin Of Symmetry after that, and then Showbiz, all three of which accompanied me on my daily drives to UWM for months.
Black Holes And Revelations came along just in time to take me through the summer of ’07, a glorious summer of sun, biking, east side life, and reading and writing in my own private space.
I had to give up that little space when we bought our house. I still miss it, but Invincible can take me back whenever I wish to go. Invincible is also one of my fight songs, along with Knights of Cydonia.
What I found unusual about this band was that I liked pretty close to every single song on each and every album. So out of over 50 songs, I was skipping maybe two. And I would put the CDs on replay, sometimes I’d put just one song on replay and listen to it for the whole 45 minute drive. Or even the whole day. I loved everything about them.
By the time their most current CD came out, The Resistance, I had already booked my trip to see them in Italy. I barely heard the new CD (if at all) before I went to the concert. So, my first exposure to it was in this grand, foreign place, that I had traveled so long and so hard to get to, 4700 miles away from my home in the middle of a far-away continent amidst people who didn’t speak my language.
And yet, though we were separated by language, we were bonded by spirit and physical proximity and a common love for the same music.
And as I stood near the railing along the third level balcony high at the top of the grand stadium, orchestral rock music streaming up over and through the people and filling the space of that grand place, and I gazed out through the panoramic window overlooking the city of Milano, warm night air circulating gently against my skin, twinkling lights of this far-away place rolling across the land in the dusky twilight of a hot-blooded, passionate city, strains of cello and bass guitar filling my heart and rising up through my throat and spreading out into my arms and legs, burning the memory into my soul forever, the only word I can come up with is Epic.
The hero’s journey took her to the foreign place so she could refill her spirit and bring it back home.