Not far removed from the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere, it was a cold and wet Melbourne that hosted Jared Leto & Co. at Festival Hall. Touring on the back of their disappointing 3rd album ‘This Is War’, this tour was for some reason titled ‘Into the Wild’. I’d research why, but the fact this blog has been written 2 weeks after the event should tell you how motivated I am at present.
The venue is not exactly much loved around these parts since (ignoring its summer air-conditioning issue which leaves it feeling like a sauna) it is spatially challenged. Spreading sideways instead of back, even some of the best seats in the house (ignoring a limited capacity balcony section which is centrally located) leave attendees with too much of a side view feel. Thankfully, yours truly had one of those best seats for this particular concert since there was no way I was going to submit my ears to the screaming 13 year old girls on the venue’s floor section… The fact that the floor section was also unlicensed is irrelevant… Well, not really, but anyway…
Arriving as the support band was playing their first song; it was not a great surprise to see The Art receive a lukewarm response. Previously known as The Follow, the Sydney outfit was a strange choice as supports since their sound is not exactly what you would call of the arena-rock type which the night’s headliners were to play. Ironically, they would be a perfect fit for a band such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who just happened to be playing not 10 blocks away at exactly the same time. Despite the mixed response, The Art were actually quite decent. The rhythm section especially impressed, while the ability to switch vocals to female bass player Kara also assisted with variety.
As 30 Seconds To Mars were just about to take stage, the anticipation of punters built and built, with the burning question on everyone’s mind being: What screwed up hairstyle would Jared emerge with tonight. Having donned a bright pink mohawk for the last couple of months (see the video for new single ‘Closer To The Edge’), it seemed that the part-time actor was in a much more conservative mood this time around; having dyed his hair the relatively normal color of blonde… The mohawk was still present however. The teenage girls were in raptures from the get-go as the band jumped straight into ‘Escape’ followed by the thumping ‘Night of the Hunter’.
Initially off-putting was the fact that drummer Shannon Leto was not only up-front of stage, but also played mainly standing up. Furthermore, the effects-laden sound of the drums had me questioning whether or not it was actually him playing. As the night wore on however – and the band played songs from across their 3 LP’s – this became less of a concern & distraction. Early on, Jared’s vocals were inconsistent, with his screams surprisingly sounding much better than his clean vocals. One bug-bear of many a concert-goer on the night was the fact that he allowed the audience to do a fair bit of the singing on certain songs. I guess that’s the positive of having an album filled with your fans (The Echelon) singing on it! Much has been said about Jared’s ego over the ears, but I have no hesitation in stating he seemed sincere throughout the night and was genuinely flattered as to the reaction his band was receiving.
The night meandered on a little until about the half-way point, where Shannon grabbed an acoustic guitar and began strumming ‘L490’. Just like a Vegas magician, it distracted the audience to the point that it took a few minutes to realize Jared had disappeared. He re-appeared a few minutes later on a tiny stage near the sound booth (in amongst the crowd) where he proceeded to put any doubts of his singing voice behind him with a fantastic mini-acoustic set composed of ‘A Modern Myth’, ‘The Story’, ‘From Yesterday’ and a shockingly effective version of the polarizing ‘Hurricane’. This seemed to reinvigorate Jared as the subsequent ‘Closer to the Edge’ & ‘The Kill’ rocked. ‘Buddha For Mary’ was also a surprise inclusion amongst the encore trio, as the night ended with Jared inviting 50 odd audience members on to the stage for ‘Kings & Queens’. Overall, it was clearly not the best performance anyone is likely to see in their lives, but it wasn’t the worst either… A fun sing-along at the very least.