Today was to be my first gig at an arena, and in addition, the band was one of my favourites. That’s right; I was seeing 30 Seconds to Mars at the Manchester Evening News Arena. As we pulled up outside the colossal building containing the arena and all of it’s offices I quickly realised the sheer scale of venue I was about to enter. After winding through various tunnels and corridors, we found our way to the doors where a queue had formed since we were there only about half an hour before the doors were due to open. The buzz in the air was electric, the 30 Seconds to Mars’ fan base, the echelon, formed much of the queue. They arrived sporting banners, t-shirts and wristbands, and every single one of them was talking about how they were going to sprint to the barrier. As the doors opened, the queue moved forward at an excruciating pace, as bags were checked and bottles of beverage thrown away. Little did we know that since we had standing tickets, we had to join another queue. As we waited, we were issued wristbands to show that we were standing before the queue started to move. We were going in! We reached the front very quickly, and with a brief flash of our wrist we were heading into the main arena. As the room opened up, it seemed as if the roof was as high as the sky and that the seats went up with it. Although it wasn’t as big as I imagined, compared to the tiny Manchester Academy this was a giant. We descended the steep steps toward the floor, where we would be spending our next 4 and half hours. Upon arrival we were instructed to sit down until, the first band took to the stage at about 7.15. Titled LostAlone, a 3-piece rock band from the UK, and having toured with 30 Seconds to Mars before, they were no strangers to the arena setting. Despite this, I felt their sound was a bit lost in the massive room. Their attempt at ‘seriously heavy metal’ felt a bit like “You Me at 6” on steroids, pumping out riffs and often cringe-worthy harmonies and shouting ‘ALRIIIIGHT’ between each song didn’t really get the crowd going. Finishing with the mammoth Ruin Of A Beautiful Empire, and a guitar solo whilst spinning around on the floor, they seemed to be trying to fit into the clichéd ‘rockstar’ category but failed.
Get LostAlone’s latest album, Say No To The World here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/say-no-to-the-world/id213756159
After a short break, the lights dimmed once more, this time for Street Drum Corps. An American punk/rock band, they seemed to be a pretty big deal, having shared the stage with Linkin Park. They also had members from Good Charlotte, Linkin Park, Atreyu, and Alexisonfire, so naturally I was excited. When they took to the stage, hitting some Rubbermaid bins to a backing track, my expectations dropped instantly. However my friend caught a drumstick which he was extremely pleased about. As the set went on, my respect was raised and lowered frequently, as one of the drummers proceeded to make out with the bassist, as the singer did pelvic thrusts toward the crowd, I have to admit my respect dropped more than it raised. Although they were entertaining, Street Drum Corps weren’t really for me and I was quite pleased when they left. The next interval felt like an eternity as we waited for 30 Seconds to Mars to take to the stage.
SDC don’t have an album on iTunes so here is the link to their Xmas single on there: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/happy-xmas-war-is-over-single/id89225134
Then a white curtain fell from the lighting rig and the lights went down. The crowd burst into a chorus of shrill piercing screams as the female contingent suddenly got overexcited about seeing their heart throb, Jared Leto. And as the opening synth-ridden beats of the escape riddled the room, the crowd fell silent. Then, through the dry ice and shadowy lighting, a silhouette emerged. Then, as the moment for the lyrics to enter, a deep raspy voice rattled through us. The crowd went wild, as the white sheet dropped to reveal Jared Leto in army regalia, sporting a Mohican hairstyle. As he stalks the stage, Jared croons out Night of the Hunter quickly following it with Attack, which summons the first pit of the evening, albeit a small one, as the crowd is whipped into a frenzy. Next came Vox Populi, the first truly big song off of their new album “This Is War”, and the crowd lapped it up. Next came A Beautiful Lie, Search and Destroy and This Is War. Suddenly the light dimmed and Jared disappeared, as did Tomo Miličević, leaving only Shannon Leto and an acoustic guitar, who proceeded to play L490 to the bewildered crowd, skilfully dodging shoes and glow sticks all the while.
Then as the final notes rung out and he left the stage, the whole arena fell dark. Then from the back, top tier, Jared’s voice rang out: ‘Here I am’ he cried. After a brief bit of banter, Jared went on to play an old favourite, Capricorn, a song that wasn’t on the setlist previous to the show. Then, to the surprise of many, 30 Seconds to Mars launched into The Kill, playing up to the first chorus acoustically before sprinting down the aisles to a stage on the soundboard, to play the rest of the song on the preferred electrical set up. Next they played an older song, The Fantasy, something quite unexpected but something I very much appreciated as I really do love that song. Then the lights dimmed again and after a couple of minutes, the band re-appeared on the stage and launched straight into Closer To The Edge and From Yesterday. The crowd roared as From Yesterday closed out and the light dimmed once again. Swiftly though, the light came back on and Jared began to take the liberty of asking people to crowd surf to the front to come on stage to sing the next song. And as he called an end to it all, the crowd fell quiet and the piercing cry of Kings and Queens rang out; once again, the crowd cried out in glee. And as the drums opened up, the lights blinded everyone as Jared launched into the first verse. On a side note, as we were watching this song, we were surprised to see the main drummer of Street Drum Corps dancing behind us and after a quick autograph from him, he moved on his way and we continued to enjoy the music. And as the song drew to a close, and the lights came up, the crowd were visibly satisfied. A truly brilliant concert and a great introduction to the arena, and it couldn’t have been with a better band.
Get 30 Seconds To Mars’ latest album, This is War, here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/this-is-war/id339980046