Thirty Seconds To Mars

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author TL date 21/06/12 venue Tivoli, Copenhagen, DEN

For all of Thirty Seconds To Mars' poppiness, I never considered them the sort of band that would have a mainstream audience in Denmark, so in a way, I was surprised when I heard they had been booked to play Tivoli's "Friday Rock", which is a recurring, family-friendly event as safe as they come. But when you think about it, the Tivoli garden, with all it's many lights and its fake minarets, and generally romantic scenery, is really the perfect place for a band like Thirty Seconds To Mars - A band that, more than probably any other out there - conjures up images of flying a starship bare-chested into the sunset, looking for adventures. Call band or location camp if you will, but as the light fades over Tivoli's outside stage and a shower of rain comes to an end, two things are clear to me: That this place and this band suit each other and that I need not have worried about the band's audience, because this place is pretty packed.

Thirty Seconds To Mars

After some strange guys have walked around the stage in fine suits and gas masks for a bit, and the ominous horns of "Birth" then herald the opening of the show, I am wondering which Jared Leto is about to show up. I've seen him disinterested and on auto-pilot when the band supported Linkin Park in 2007 and played arguably the worst set I've ever seen an established band play. Yet I've also seen him leaning over KB Hallen's barrier in 2010, directing singalongs with wild eyes and a wide smile, channeling the larger-than-life energy of that year's "This Is War" like a human conduit that made the band's epicism a lot more relatable. Tonight however, the singer/guitarist/actor/director is neither of those two, rather he appears the quintessential rock star, sporting aviator sunglasses and a long coat over a loose tank top as he first extends his voice in "Night Of The Hunter".

"Fredagsrock" has previously been reputed for having too low and too vocal-focused a mix , but much to my delight, Tivoli is at its best sound-wise tonight, with Jared's voice appearing loud and clear in the mix, but with his brother Shannon's drums and guitarist Tomo Miličević's notes also coming out with a fitting amount of power. It's loud enough to immerse you, yet not too loud for you to shout a comment at the person next to you, which fits the loose and lively Friday night mood perfectly. Had the mix been tilted in favour of Jared's vocals however, it would not have been a great loss, because good God does the man have a voice, and leaping from sharp, low verses to soaring verses with practiced ease, the younger Leto lends the band's music its most magical energy, when he lets his trademark rasp into his highs on several timely occasions.

And all eyes are fixed firmly on Jared, who handles himself with traditional rock-star swagger, spinning and jumping like a giddy kid during songs, encouraging and leading massive singalongs and delivering equal shares of jokes and compliments during the pauses. His humor is rowdy and funny enough to feel unrehearsed, but admittedly, you can't blame people for wondering if the same can be said about the attempts at making it sound genuine when he assures us that he's loving both the place and the people and wants to come back sooner rather than later. Skeptics will surely remain unconvinced, but personally, I think the effort isn't entirely unconvincing, and even if it is just a courtesy, then most of tonight's crowd is clearly appreciating it.

"The Kill" makes a glorious jump from acoustic to full band version

The set is carried forward with tracks divided roughly fifty-fifty between new album "Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams" and the band's two previous albums "This Is War" and "A Beautiful Lie". Sadly, songs from the self-titled debut - like "Capricorn", "Edge Of The Earth", "Oblivion" and "The Mission" - are completely omitted, as are great numbers like "Vox Populi", "100 Suns", "Attack" and "From Yesterday", and while you understand that the band is currently touring in support of "Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams", it's hard not to notice that any of these songs would've been stronger than for instance "Do Or Die" or "Northern Lights". The band counter-acts this with upping the showmanship, first unleashing a torrent of giant, coloured balloons (Muse-style) and later starting a crazy party by showering us with inflated pool-animals. Meanwhile, Jared often takes time off to invite people in crazy outfits on stage, steadily building a crowd behind his brother's raised drumkit throughout the show.

Meanwhile the wild riff of "Conquistador" gets people rocking out, "Closer To The Edge" raises an army of fists pumping in tact to its "No, no, no. no!" cries and "Search And Destroy" has people off their feet from front to back. An acoustic stretch in the middle of the set ends with a surge as "The Kill" makes the jump to its chorus with the full band coming in and the crowd responding with large singalongs, and "End Of All Days" has Jared teasing with dropping his coat. Moreover, the band's cinematic videos look positively stunning on the massive screen behind them, fully completing the experience of encore-appearances of "Up In The Air" and "Kings And Queens".

People lose their shit as Jared Leto loses his coat and unleashes a shower of pool animals

All in all, the show is a spectacular party, which prompts satisfied grins from people of all ages spread across Tivoli's lawn, and which ends with a score of fans rocking out on stage and the good, old sit-down-jump-up routine for the rest of us. The only question mark you can pose here, is with the band's sincerity, because while Shannon Leto and Tomo Miličević look vivid playing their instruments, Jared is so slick in his role as the great entertainer, that there's no way of telling how emotionally invested he really is in his performance. The question is though, how much of a downside this really is, because in terms of performance and production, this is - well, it's a little outrageous, and I mean that in the best way, because in a time when rock music's greatest stars are getting smaller, I continue to find it liberating to witness the increasingly rare shows of this unifying magnitude. It's the kind of show that makes you forget about being cool for a short while, rather enjoying a good time with a lot of people instead, so I guess what I ultimately thought of it, is that I really don't worry too much about whether it's all a lie, so long as it is this beautiful.

Setlist:

  • Birth
  • Night of the Hunter
  • Search and Destroy
  • This Is War
  • Conquistador
  • City of Angels
  • End of All Days
  • Do or Die
  • Hurricane (acoustic)
  • Northern Lights (acoustic)
  • The Kill (Bury Me)
  • Closer to the Edge

Encore:

  • Alibi
  • Kings and Queens
  • Up in the Air

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