Review of 30 Seconds to Mars live at Manchester MEN Arena on February 20, 2010
Though tonight's show isn't a sell out, it is indicative of 30 Seconds To Mars' rise that they are playing arenas having hosted their last set of dates at university venues. Now promoting their third album, last year's 'This Is War', on a jaunt across Europe, they will return in June for a slot at Download Festival.
Beginning their show with a dropped curtain, two things become clear quite quickly with regards to 30STM's main man, Jared Leto. First is that his voice isn't in top condition (he'll admit to being under the weather) and second is that, even with a rather dodgy mohawk, he is ridiculously attractive to the point that alpha males may cast an admiring glance. Their set should come to life with the great album track 'Night Of The Hunter', but a reliance on a crowd not overly familiar with the number means the 'woah woah' backing vocals aren't in place. Maybe it is because their non-singles are not so well known or perhaps a section of the audience is in attendance for Leto's appearance, but either way it means many of the new songs lose the backing vocals of their album counterparts which were provided by the band's fans. 'Search And Destroy' and 'This Is War' fall victim to this, but by dropping in 'Attack' and 'A Beautiful Lie' early into the set the band keep a solid momentum going. These fan favourites go to show that 30STM have established anthems and the band members themselves clearly enjoy the opportunity to perform on the larger stage which they regularly jump, strut and spin across.
It is in the final third of the show that the band really raises their game and makes it a night to remember. A brief interlude after 'L490' sees Leto appear amongst the crowd in the lower tier. An acoustic rendition of early number 'Capricorn' showcases an impressive vocal range, before 'The Kill' begins in the same manner before exploding into full life with the rest of the band on a mini-stage at the back of the floor. Leto walks amongst the crowd to join them, thrilling the audience members who mob him - whilst security is necessarily present; there isn't a barricaded route for the star to waltz along. Microphone problems plague 'The Fantasy' before the band make their way back to the main stage and run through a rapturous 'From Yesterday' as part of their encore. Before concluding proceedings Leto shows an endearing humility in thanking the audience and trying to set up dates, then the band run through a joyous 'Kings And Queens'. They may not have sounded brilliant throughout the performance, but 30STM certainly end the night in top form and do enough to indicate this may well be the first of many arena tours.