Thirty Seconds To Mars

support Twin Atlantic
author TL date 21/02/14 venue Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, DEN

Arriving to Falconer Congress Center on Friday evening I'm excited to get my weekend started with what has turned out to be a bit of a double headliner for me, what with the recent announcement of Twin Atlantic as the support band for the already highly anticipated Thirty Seconds To Mars. Of course there are those who would say that the latter's frontman Jared Leto is enjoying nauseating levels of success these days, claiming awards for his direction of the documentary "Artifact" and for his acting in the Oscar-relevant "Dallas Buyers Club", but seemingly this has had no noteworthy impact on the appeal of his musical efforts, because the city's largest theatre is densely populated already around eight when the first set is about to start:

Due to photo restrictions, we have no pro shots from the show (likely due to the photo pit being full of balloons and confetti cannons)

Instead we've cheekily embedded some fan-footage from youtube (thanks to the uploaders!)

Twin Atlantic

Last time Twin Atlantic played in Copenhagen, it was to an audience of less than thirty in KB18, where a Distortion-related elevator music party was raging outside, much to the dismay of the handful of eager rock fans in attendance. Since then the band has grown up fast in other markets however, and despite the predictable mix adjustments needing to be made as they launch their set with two unreleased songs, you can tell that Sam McTrusty and his friends are now accustomed to dealing with stages and audiences of this size, as the frontman soon takes measures to activate the crowd, commanding us to jump and clap in between putting good energy into running about and striking his guitar.

While a good portion obey however, the vibe around LF and I is one of the audience not really buying in, which makes sense because the performance, as active as it is, feels a bit mechanical. Especially the oh oh's added to "Edit Me" by guitarist Barry McKenna sound a bit glued on. Instead of such cheap elements it would have been better for Twin Atlantic to compromise their loyalty to their own guitar noise a bit, perhaps having McTrusty focus a bit more on delivering the song with more presence, instead of sounding a bit like a man who's on the clock to include as much as his material as the support set allows.

The band gets plenty of time anyway, yet still decide predictably and regretably to omit two of their better (and older) songs "What Is Light, Where Is Laughter" and "You're Turning Into John Wayne". Still, while they never really overcome the inherited difficulties of the support slot, it's good seeing the band attack it with such confidence and commitment. It gives one hope that the chance to finally see them on their own terms might present itself sooner rather than later.


Thirty Seconds To Mars

After a brief changeover and a second injection of extra liquid excitement, it's time for the main event, which opens when the stage curtain reveals a massive white version of the band's pyramid-shaped logo hanging from the ceiling, bathed to begin with in a dim purple light as Jared Leto sneaks on stage concealed in coat, warm hat and sunglasses. I instantly realise that my earplugs are going to serve me well tonight, judging by the squeal of joy that particularly (but not exclusively) the female half of the audience greets the band with, and then we're instantly off to the sing-along ceremony via "Birth", "Night Of The Hunter" and "Search And Destroy".

With most 'Mars songs having at least one lyrical and one whoa-oh hook, it's a no-brainer that Leto takes every opportunity to lead the audience in a choral activity, making sure that a well-utilized Falconer theatre is engaged all the way up to the furthest balcony seats. "This Is War" marks an early highlight, and progressing through the ballsy riffage of "Conquistador" and the massive anthemics of "Kings And Queens", Leto gradually ups the feeling of intimacy by losing his outer layers of clothing and by regularly engaging with the audience with clever between-song banter, even inviting the odd pairs of girls and boys to join him from the crowd. The girls dissolve in tears and the boys in matching 'Mars tops look like the singer just made their life, while Leto makes sure to compliment the remaining gentlemen of tonight for their handsome looks - a classy move considering many of those gentlemen's romantic interests are propably more occupied with the star's own looks for the time being.

Having shown appreciation for Denmark - the country where the band is apparently least known - and for the opportunity to play this intimate show - in the second largest indoor venue in town - The 'Mars show continues with massive balloons in the colour of the most recent album's artwork getting launched out over us, and soon we're showered in confetti as well, and you can't help but recognise the band's understanding for how a large show like this needs to be as much a party on the floor as a performance on the stage, with people of all age groups having the room to breathe and get distracted, only to be repeatedly drawn back into the next moment of communion - which is what it feels like during the many gospel-like whoa-oh choirs we're lead through on the evening.

A bit deeper on the stage, Leto's brother Shannon on drums and Tomo Miličević have been playing with elation for the duration, but they're hard to see for anyone standing further back than in the front third of the room. It's a wise decision then, that a platform has been erected that extends forward from the middle of the stage, giving more people a chance to see the band leader. From here he conducts the latter half of the show as a partially acoustic affair, taking requests (or pretending, who knows), teasing snippets of numbers that there isn't really time enough to air. Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" gets a few bars along with songs like "Revenge", "Was It A Dream" and "Vox Populi", the latter of which seems especially like a song the fans would've wanted to hear in full (myself included). Instead time is afforded for "Hurricane" and Rihanna's "Stay" as well as "The Kill".

During the most quiet parts of this half of the show, we get some rare flashes of the delicate musicality Thirty Seconds To Mars are actually capable of when at their best, and while the younger Leto is a bit flat in his lower notes tonight, we do get some healthy servings of his impressive vocal prowess. The Danish flag is waved around on occasion, prompting a loud reaction despite the presumably considerable number of Swedish guests in the house tonight, and the crowd is enlisted to shout our country's name on an "impromptu" video for the band's instagram account, again boosting the feeling that we're all at a party together more than just at a concert.

After the regular set is closed with "Closer To The Edge" and the encore honours the 'Mars tradition of inviting roughly a third of the audience on stage while "Up In The Air" follows "Bright Lights", the last confetti eventually floats to the ground and the final balloons are dragged off by fans as memorabilia, concluding another festive 'Mars spectacle. In reality, there are plenty of remarks to be made: About Jared's singing not being quite where it can be tonight, about the finer points of the band's perfectionistic productions and theatricality disappearing a bit behind the endless call/response sessions and about the decision to omit fantastic songs like "Attack" and "From Yesterday" in favour of a cover of an unmistakeably worse Rihanna doodle. The balance between a display of musical equilibrism and thorough crowd interaction is unquestionably a bit skewed towards the latter then, which is why fans are likely to leave tonight remembering more of an immersive party than a spine-chillingly emotional musical experience. But in the former department at least, we got every penny's worth and even with a critical view intact, you'd have to be an unreasonably grumpy git to even think about asking for refunds.

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