30 Seconds To Mars’ latest album This Is War was phenononal, the product of musicians who understood that the best albums are ones that sound like one piece of work, that flow beautifully. With this in mind, my expectations for the second time of seeing the band were high; they did not disappoint! Last time I saw them, standing at the back of the balcony at the Hammersmith Apollo, they were very good, but three years worth of touring later, they produced one of the best gigs I have ever been to.
The support for the night came first of all from Funeral Party, who I admit disappointed slightly, they never introduced themselves and simply got on stage, played their songs and hardly interacted with the audience they should have been trying to impress. Main support came from Enter Shikari. It’s difficult to sum up Enter Shikari any differently to how I felt about them at Reading, which is their music is, personally, not to my taste but it is impossible not to appreciate both their skills as live performers and musicians; anyone who can seamlessly mix hard rock and dubstep deserves the credit for it. They also managed to get the majority of the crowd pumped and ready for 30 Seconds To Mars to take the stage.
When they did, they blew the crowd away. Entering to Escape, leading into A Beautiful Lie, I don’t think I have ever been to a gig where a band could come on to an album track and not have to sing because the crowd were already in deafening voice, such is the passion and dedication of The Echelon. It is also possible to see that Jared Leto has grown into his role as frontman and leader of the band, commanding the stage and the audience in a way that not only creates a fantastically energetic atmosphere, but also makes every single person watching truly feel like they are part of something special. In addition, it is only the second time I have been to a gig of that size and seen the artist completely engage with the audience, to the point where he picked out someone in the front row when they weren’t jumping, asking the question, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you the only one not jumping?!”. Even more, when the house lights were up and he was trying to get those in seating to stand up, he even managed to pick out one of the few people to remain sitting right at the back and got them to stand up, from the front to the back the gig was inclusive.
Technically, the sound was faultless (as in it was a gig that did not leave my ears ringing) and the lighting was incredibly effective. In fact, it speaks volumes that for their set they relied on a fantastic and varied light show, with no other thrills, not even a banner or a backdrop, leaving the focus completely on the music. Musically, then, nothing was out-of-place. Jared Leto’s voice is flawless and haunting, and although they often fade into the background, both Shannon and Tommo deserve huge credit for the part they play in allowing the natural frontman to take the fore, while playing their parts with precision and vigour. It’s because of this that the whole thing works, there is no struggle for time or attention, everything comes naturally during the performance, and there is never any doubt that this is a band loving every minute they spend on that stage.
Even when Jared Leto appeared in the middle of the Arena to play From Yesterday and The Alibi acoustically, there was no downturn in atmosphere. Yes it was more relaxed but still virtually everyone who was there sang along, in awe of a voice that was, for too many years, wasted on acting! The ultimate show of appreciation, came at the very end. After a beautiful and rousing rendition of next single Hurricane, they ended with Kings and Queens, for which they invited a large amount of fans from the audience on stage to join them. It may not have been fun for the security trying to keep them under control, but when you consider the majority of those on stage were randomly picked from the audience for being “crazy” during the gig, it is amazing to see a band with so much adoration for the fans. That, ultimately, is what makes the live 30 Seconds To Mars experience, so unforgettable. Everytime they win an award, or conduct an interview, the band will insist that all they do is for their fans, that they are part of a family, and it would be easy to think that this is contrived, a mere show of appreciation. Watching them live you realise they are sincere. That, more than any other band around at the moment, they know that they would not be where they are without their fans, and will strive to thank every single one of them, and make them feel as though they are a part of something truly special. Because they are! This is a band who excite and amaze. A band who have sculpted their live show around new material, without their fans batting an eyelid, because they know what they have created in This Is War is close to a masterpiece. After last night, I honestly think that if they continue down the road they are on, 30 Seconds To Mars are staring down the barrel of legendary status both as recording artists and live performers.