‘Hello London…how the fuck are you?’ Jared Leto is barely audible above the screams of a sold out Astoria. Outside in the street touts are successfully selling tickets for £40, such is the allure of the move star frontman of 30 Seconds To Mars.
Although he prefers not to ride off his success as an actor, there’s no denying that a large slice of the audience are here solely to see him, and him alone. The question hangs over the venue, is he just another actor who decided to be a rock star one day, or is he the real deal?
When the band take to the stage later than billed that anticipation in the audience is palpable, a white curtain shields the band from our view, until classical music fills the venue, building up and up, blue spotlights pick out figures behind the curtain, Leto in a Jesus Christ pose, people moving quickly, the roses clutched by the girls in the front row silhouetted 6 foot high. When the curtain suddenly lifts Leto and Co are revealed, all in black, with black bandanas covering their mouths, punk rock bandits ripping across the stage. It’s an impressive sight, Leto works the crowd aggressively, his voice true and clear, his swagger as he moves across the stage draws further adulation from the already fever pitched front rows.
Picking and choosing mostly from their second album ‘A Beautiful Lie‘ the band belt out ‘The Story, ‘The Fantasy‘ and more, but it’s single ‘The Kill (Bury Me)‘ which stands out, as Leto throws himself into the crowd, and manages, impressively, to find his feet on the shoulders of fans, and plays the last two minutes of the track standing in the middle of the crowd, arms outstretched – give the man his dues, I’ve never seen a frontman manage that one so smoothly…but knowing this is a gig for kids aged 14 and over, should a grown man really be throwing himself onto the heads of teenage girls? He repeatedly refers to his fans as his ‘family’, and builds on the ‘us and against the world’ mentality which mirrors My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way’s rant at Reading last year, but do we really need bands getting the crowd to chant ‘Fuck You’ over and over again?
Tracks are adrenaline filled and fired up, the band roll out explosive track after track, but it’s hard to work out who they are aiming this for. Leto makes a big deal about being the ‘real deal’, but after getting a very young fan who didn’t look older than 12 on stage, it feels a little too Jim’ll Fix It. Leto promises to stay and sign autographs for anyone who wants one after the show, you can’t help but feel he’s being a little too obliging, even a little too accessible?
They round off the set with a couple of acoustic tracks, and some tracks from their little known first album, but it’s their single ‘Attack‘ which rounds off the night on a high note, it’s a beautifully written, awesomely performed track which the band absolutely nail. Throughout the set the focus is on Leto, the rest of the band aren’t even introduced, and remain in the background. It’s clear who the star of this show is.
It was never going to be easy for Leto to make the transition from Oscar nominated actor to frontman without some naysayers, and even though 30 Seconds to Mars are maybe a little too polished, a little too perfect – it’s backed up with well written, exciting tracks and a frontman who clearly has the crowds wrapped around his little finger. It’ll just be interesting to see how the fare in front of the less user friendly metal crowds at Download this year….