30 Seconds to Mars land perfectly in Belfast SSE Arena.
On an abnormally hot and sunny day for a place more used to drizzly temperate climes, a happy queue could be seen snaking round the front of the SSE Arena, Belfast. Happy for finally seeing the sun, happy for not being rained on as they waited to get in and happy that they knew they were going to see the one, the only, 30 Seconds to Mars.
Yes, that 30 Seconds to Mars, the one with Jared Leto. Yes, the Joker from Suicide Squad. Now you feel that sublime moment when Alt Rock and Geekdom collide.
Finally, the crowd filed in and took their places, either on the floor or in the seats. It was perfectly cool inside. A refreshing difference to the scorching sun outside.
The stage was set and fairly minimalist as the support act, Key West, took the stage. This band from Dublin had some mighty Craic about them teasing and joshing with the crowd as they went through their set showing how talented they were with the on point delivery, mad drum session and very catchy funny and sad songs such as “I Never Loved You Anyway” and “Gypsy Rose”. This is a band with great personality and should be fairly familiar to regulars of Belfast as they do a few busking sets in the city centre. They were definitely well received and were a very pleasant surprise to many. They are a band to watch out for in the future.
After the interval came the darkness. The roars went up as the lights went down and “Monolith” began humming its thunderous rhythmic beats. And then 30 Seconds to Mars.
The three-piece pure entertainment outfit (Tomo was missing due to personal reasons) had the flag waving audience gripped from the very first note. These are not just Alt Rock fans, these are 30 Seconds to Mars Alt Rock fans. And boy did they show it. Practically singing every word of every song Jared sang. The whole night!
Kicking off with “Up in the air”, “Kings and Queens” and “The Kill” the now three piece group hit the right notes every single time driving the crowd ballistic with ecstasy. “Search and Destroy” came next before a barrage of giant balloons filled the arena floor as the chanting backward and forward between Jared and the crowd landed “This is War” into the set list. On the deluge of songs came as the crowd lapped up “Dangerous Night”, “Do or Die” and the World cup song “Hail to the Victor”.
The crowd interaction was supremely entertaining in itself, with Jared declaring to all at one point that he was a Chav! Welcome to Belfast, Mate. Here’s your bottle of Bucky, like.
On came the non-stop express train of fantastic songs with “Pyres of Varanasi” “Stay” and “Great Wide Open” before Jared donned his guitar and launched into the rockiest tune of the night, “Conquistador”. They finished the normal set with “Rescue me”.
Jared teased the crowd asking if they wanted one more song. The roar of approval went up, before he teased that he was going to do two but if they just wanted one
that was ok. The roar suddenly went deafeningly to 11. And two songs they did indeed give. The classic “Walk on Water and “Closer to Edge” finished off the evening with a massive shower of confetti.
It was no understatement to say that the whole evening felt like being at a religious gathering, with the Joker himself leading the congregation through each song like they were rapturous hymns. Also looking like the lovechild of Keanu Reeves and Jesus kind of added to the whole atmosphere.
This was a maximum effort lesson in seamless interaction with the fans as he picked people out of the crowd numerous times to come onto stage with him, whether to be judges to decide what side of the arena sang the loudest, to a young girl showing off her Floss skills, to filling the stage with fans for the very last song. Jared seemed determined throughout the set to fully involve the fans.
Jared was a consummate entertainer and had Belfast in the palm of his sparkly red gloved hands. It was a sight to behold that a three piece band with the drummer in the middle of the large stage, the accompaniment off to the very side and yet the rest of the stage was ably fully filled with Jared’s energy. He could not stand still for a moment and had very well informed banter with the adoring crowd before him.
Yes, it was not packed out. Yes, Jared even noted it by saying ‘This is one of the smallest crowds on our tour, but it feels like one of the biggest.’ In a strange way, it felt like the gig was more intimate. Quality not quantity was fully on show in Belfast’s SSE Arena.
Even if you have never heard of 30 Seconds to Mars, or you were never a fan, or you were nonchalant about them, the show Jared Leto, Shannon Leto, and Matt Wachter, put on will definitely have you pumped for more. The whole style is a kind of pop rock ballad led emotional trip into love, hate and everything in between. Not everybody’s cup of tea. But by god, everybody that night got hot strong coffee. The crowd heaved, jumped, sang their hearts out and generally had an absolute blast.
Jared promised they would come back and when they do, you really need to get to the show. You will not be disappointed.
Review by Ivor Whitten