Muse plays heady KAABOO set, while Eric Burdon roars with The Animals


KAABOO Del Mar is a multi-generational affair for its performers as well as its audience. That point was vividly demonstrated Saturday near the conclusion of the second night of the three-day festival’s third annual edition at the Del Mar racetrack and adjacent fairgrounds.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon was 36 when Matt Bellamy and Dominic Howard of Muse were born in 1978. On Saturday, Burdon and fellow Brits Muse appeared on adjoining KAABOO stages and their performances offered a fascinating study, not only in contrasts, but in similarities.

Of course, no one would expect Muse’s ultra high-tech, impeccably polished brand of rock to sound much like Burdon’s raw, rootsy blues and soul.

His his bare-bones stage presentation was a world away from Muse’s eye-popping production, which featured more lights than most Broadway shows, integrated video images worthy of a blockbuster film, and - during the slow, moody “Madness,” which was the eleventh of Muse’s 19 selections - Bellamy’s digital sunglasses, which flashed the song’s lyrics in its lenses.

But the rock-a-boogie beat that anchored Muse’s second song, “Psycho,” can be traced to the same musical wellspring as the 1962 Sam Cooke classic, “Bring It On Home To Me,” which was given a rollicking treatment by Burdon and his brassy band.

Likewise, Bellamy’s tart solos - while at times employing the tapping style and fleet legato lines pioneered by Allan Holdsworth and Eddie Van Halen - employed some of the same bluesy bends that Burdon’s guitarist Johnzo West played.

Muse’s fondness for - and debt to - American music was perhaps most pronounced during the band’s reverently rip-roaring version of “New Kind of Kick” by The Cramps, the sadly defunct Sacramento band that fused rockabilly, garage rock and punk. (As the song ended, one of the video screens behind the band showed a large portrait of Cramps’ guitarist and periodic vocalist Poison Ivy).

Both Muse and Burdon performed with skill, crowd-pleasing verve and unmistakable commitment. Muse performed on the enormous Grandview Stage, while Burdon and his band appeared on the smaller - but still sizable - Trestles Stage.

Their respective performances had their respective audiences singing and dancing along, as Muse played such fan favorites as the explosive “Stockholm Syndrome” and “Uprising,” their first encore, and Burdon tore through “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” a 1965 hit for him and The Animals.

Muse, whose music is both anchored and propelled by Howard’s fierce but rock-steady drumming, delivers it music with a rare unity of purpose.

The outdoor setting at KAABOO prevented the band from employing some of the more extravagant production touches Muse utilizes at its arena shows - no flying metallic orbs this time around! But it was still an eye-popping fantasia whose visual flair enhanced, rather than distracted from the music.

Burdon, now 76, is the sole original member of The Animals still in the band. Its current members, nearly all of them American, are young enough to be his children or even grandchildren. But the seven-man group played with infectious spirit, whether vamping through the Sam & Dave soul classic, “Hold On I’m Coming,” or elevating “House of the Rising Sun,” the ageless American blues lament that remains Burdon’s signature song.

He wryly introduced it by telling the enthusiastic audience: “I think you’ve heard this one before. But you’re going to hear it again, whether you like it or not.”

The hearty cheer from the audience - whose members ranged in age from toddlers to grandparents - left no doubt about their approval.