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Thirty Seconds To Mars: AO Arena, Manchester – Live Review


Thirty Seconds To Mars | Jagwar Twin
AO Arena, Manchester
7th June 2024

After six years, Thirty Seconds to Mars returned triumphantly to Manchester, delivering a powerful performance at the AO Arena. The Seasons Tour delivers a diverse selection of popular songs spanning their 25-year career, showcasing their versatility across genres such as emo, nu-metal, rock, and electronic music.

First up, is support act, Jagwar Twin, who launches with a powerful introduction, unleashing high-octane songs that skilfully blend alternative rock, pop and EDM. He’s visually captivating, bouncing barefoot, styled in eclectic attire from a dressing-up box that falls somewhere between art-school fashion and beachwear. It’s musical theatre with a rockier twist, infused with a slightly menacing sense of suspended reality, reminiscent of the ambience created in a theme park queue line. Highlight tracks feature the infectious anthem ‘Down To You’, followed by an unexpected, stripped-back rendition of ‘Wonderwall’. The icing on the cake is his Wonka-themed song Bad Feeling, which has the crowd chanting Oompa Loompa while he zips unapologetically around the stage in a jubilant torrent of energy – a brilliant start.

Jagwar Twin - Photographer Melanie SmithThe 100-second countdown for Thirty Seconds To Mars commences; a female voice announces the diminishing seconds as they flash on the screen. Anticipation has peaked, filling the space with tangible excitement, as eager fans join in with the countdown. As the clock freezes at 30, a colossal triangular backdrop illuminates, setting the stage aglow. On-screen, brothers Jared and Shannon Leto burst into view, exuding radiant energy, akin to boxers ready to conquer the ring. Where will they emerge from?

A commotion is building, die-hard fans teary and overjoyed, transfixed on the giant screens, heads darting frantically in search of their heroes. Then a unified roar goes up, the arena awash with frantic hands, phones and cheers, as the Leto brothers make their grand entrance through the crowd and into the arena. Closer To The Edge plays out, frenzied fans chanting as Jared and Shannon make their ascent to the stage.

Thirty Seconds To Mars - Photographer Melanie SmithConfetti cannons and flames fire from the floor as the high-octane dance track Up In The Air pelts in, Jared’s vocals soaring magnificently. An explosive opener rich in kaleidoscopic synth and a pulsating beat, Jared strides purposefully across the catwalk, cape flowing, ready for lift-off. Crowd-pleaser Kings and Queens feels like highly affirming epic rock whilst Walk On Water fires out with a propulsive rhythm. The crowd is stomping and one fan holds up a handcrafted sign bearing the word ‘EMO’, a tribute to a cherished era ingrained in his soul.

The illuminated triangle, symbolising the alchemy symbol for air, adds an aura of potency to the rise of the music, aligning seamlessly with Jared’s God-like stage presence. Yet, there’s no trace of arrogance. His true superpower lies in his profound connection with the audience, offering them a uniquely intimate musical journey that transcends the boundaries of the stage.

Thirty Seconds To Mars - Photographer Melanie SmithRescue Me is a visceral treat, with Jared’s vocals sweeping effortlessly through the room. A handful of fans unite on stage for a dance, basking in pure bliss for being handpicked for this unforgettable moment. Jared’s talent for transforming every song into a high-spirited performance is enhanced by the unwavering support of a dedicated audience, who are well-versed in every nuance and chorus part. “I’m going to slow things down a little,” announces Jared as an acoustic guitar is unveiled.

This interlude allows him to divulge that British music has left a lasting mark on both himself and his brother, referencing some iconic musical greats – Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Cure – and pausing between each mention to draw upon the enthusiastic agreement of the crowd. Following some tender moments and a brilliant acoustic debut of Do Or Die, Jared performs a stirring rendition of Rhianna and Mikky Ekko’s Stay, orchestrating the crowd to harmonise in a sea of lights, torches aloft and swaying. A few animated hollers erupt as Jared loosens his jacket to bare some chest, a subtle crowd teaser.

City of Angels delicately unfolds like a love story, gradually building towards a solid chorus that ignites an emotional response from the audience, torches once again illuminating the space. Throughout the show, there is a pervasive sense of peace and unity, punctuated by intermittent statements from Jared such as “Let’s make a little peace and sing together.”

Oversized balloons are catapulted into the audience, adding another layer of enchantment to demonstrate his ability to beguile the crowd. Jared certainly understands how to leverage the power of social media algorithms, as evidenced by his encouragement for fans to participate in a mass selfie during his ‘Insta live’ session mid-show. He operates on a high-frequency business model, effectively engaging with his audience in real time.

Thirty Seconds To Mars - Photographer Melanie SmithThe encore kicks off with the newcomer Stuck, the high-tempo dance lead single from their latest album. Both brothers unite in the catwalk limelight, with Shannon unleashing electronic beats on his drum pad, fuelling the energy that reverberates through the crowd. The atmosphere is electrifying – flames firing out from the neon glow of the stage, art-fashion images of beautiful people looping on the giant triad screen. Fans go wild for anthemic emo banger The Kill, serving as the perfect crescendo to bring the show towards its close. For the finale, Jared invites, what feels like half of the arena, to join him on stage in a closing ceremony. Frantic fans surge to the barriers, eager to seize a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get closer to their heroes, their faces lit up with unbridled joy.

As the final notes of Closer To The Edge echoes through the venue, the room pulses with the collective chant of the uplifting chorus, “No, I’m not saying I’m sorry, One day maybe we’ll meet again”, a poignant message from Jared to his devoted fans, a promise of future reunions. As the applause erupts, it’s a monumental conclusion to an unforgettable night, leaving fans with hearts brimming with gratitude and memories. A tremendous concert filled with exuberance, connection, authenticity and superb showmanship.

~

Thirty Seconds To Mars can be found at their website | Facebook and X

Please note: Use of these images in any form without permission is illegal. If you wish to contact the photographer please email: mel@mudkissphotography.co.uk

Words by Clare de Lune, this is Clare’s first review for Louder Than War. You can find Clare on Instagram | Facebook

All photos by Melanie Smith – Louder Than War | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Portfolio

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