Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Thirty Seconds to Mars theatric performance at Dubai Music Week

Thirty Seconds to Mars is very much The Jared Leto Show, with the Hollywood star supplying a performance as eccentrically theatric as you might expect from the man employed to follow Heath Ledger as The Joker.
Jared Leto, lead vocalist and Tomo Milicevic.  Victor Besa for The National
Jared Leto, lead vocalist and Tomo Milicevic. Victor Besa for The National

Onstage, Jared Leto is every ounce as eccentrically theatric as you might expect from the man employed to follow Heath Ledger as Batman’s archenemy The Joker, in upcoming Hollywood blockbuster Suicide Squad.

Fronting his band Thirty Seconds to Mars at the closing night of Dubai Music Week, after a spot of Medieval-inspired chorus (the classic intro music O Fortuna from Carmina Burana), Leto, 34, arrived onstage prophetically dressed in a white robe. Well, not quite a robe, more like a white sheet with a hole in it – his long pink hair slicked back, black wayfarers glued to his scalp.

Physically, Leto is a hyperactive hypnotist. Amid a torrent of identikit emoto-rock, he pumps his fist. He twirls around. He grabs a flagpole with the band’s bizarre triangle logo on it, and twirls around some more.

Glitter bursts into the sky, and giant beach-balls rain on the crowd. A few tracks in, and he’s already doing the old split-the-crowd-down-the-middle cheering contest.

Leto sprints down one of those T-shaped stage runaways. He also invites the audience to jump, a lot. “Does anybody want to get a little crazy?” he asks. Turns out this devoted crowd are more than willing and able. It’s been a long wait for the faithful, after an original concert date in April was postponed.

Leto’s greatest party trick however is stripping it back. After a few minutes of silence, he suddenly appears in the middle of the hall, with an acoustic guitar. “I thought I’d just come back here and say hello,” he smiles. “Any requests?”

In between three seemingly spontaneous singsongs, Leto makes friends with a young Saudi girl who brought a selfie stick to the gig, and even posts a live video straight to Instagram. But only after asking if we’d prefer it on Snapchat. Nice touch, Leto.

The other band members? Forget it – this is 100 per cent The Jared Leto Show. Guitarist Tomo Miličevenćhas zilch stage presence, and Jared’s brother, drummer Shannon, appeared to not even be onstage, with much of the music supplied with backing tracks. Theatrical – but also superficial.

Arguments about authenticity aside, it’s these extra layers that help explain the exterrestrial bombast of the music – a relentless torrent of yearning chords and stadium-baiting “Woahs”.

To wrap things up, a group of super-fans – reportedly VIP customers who’ve paid a premium to sit at the side of the stage for a view of Tomo’s back – are invited up to dance around to Closer to the Edge.

Still, all Leto’s carefully crafted presentation was unwittingly undone moments after the final chords rang out, when the local emcee invited the audience to put their hands together for “Thirty Seconds OF Mars”. Nice try – but not quite.

Updated: September 26, 2015 04:00 AM

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