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Thirty Seconds to Mars is on the road supporting Love Lust Faith & Dreams, paying a visit to the Events Center at San Jose State for a headlining set to a packed house that managed to deliver both a high level of production befitting their latest release along with the intimacy of an acoustic set.
The night kicked off with an energetic set by Danish band New Politics whose relentless touring have brought them through the Bay Area multiple times this past year as their hit, “Harlem,” continues to get regular radio play. Vocalist David Boyd broke out some mean break-dance moves that were sure to impress even those that were patiently biding their time waiting for the headliners.
Thirty Seconds to Mars took the stage promptly at 8:15 to “Birth,” the opening track from Love Lust Faith & Dreams, which set the tone for the evening. The floor, which had been half-full for New Politics, suddenly seemed to reach near-capacity as the vocals hit the stage before the vocalist did. Jared Leto strolled to the front wearing a hoodie and shades … channeling rockstar incarnate … a giant logo hanging behind the stage and dramatic back lighting that could should best be captured by video rather than photos to truly do it justice.
It was clear from the start that this was going to be a religious experience for many in the audience who hung on every word from their idols. During “Search and Destroy,” a few dozen giant balloons onto the audience which kept the crowd lively (as if that was a problem) and the stage hands busy keep the band’s space clear. For those paying attention, there were two errant pieces of confetti floating along with those balloons, providing a hint of what was to come later.
From there, the setlist steered towards the new release, Jared asking the crowd how many already had it and admonishing those that didn’t … ”go to hell and have your testicles sauteed in vegan butter.” Fans that bought the album that night at the merch table were given the opportunity to have it signed by the band after the show; judging the length of that line, many people (even those without testicles) took Jared’s threat to heart.
After “City of Angels,” the rest of the band left the stage, leaving Jared alone with his acoustic guitar. ”I’ll play anything you want. What do you want me to play?” … resulting in the fans hollering out pretty much any song you can imagine meaning that Jared got to play pretty much whatever he wanted for the acoustic portion of the set. No more seizure-inducing lights, just Jared and the crowd. While intended to be introduce and intimate element to the show, the acoustic set seemed to ramble a bit with stop/starts of song snippets that seemed to leave some in the audience hanging and clearly lost the attention of others (ahem, loud-mouth woman in the back celebrating her 21st birthday). That said, a clear highlight of the night came during the acoustic portion of the set with “This Is War” which Jared explained was the first time it had been played live acoustically. For those die-hard followers of the band, it’s always a good thing to be able to say you’ve had a “first” and the song clearly brought things back into focus.
After a tease of “Kings and Queens,” Jared stopped the set and said, ”I don’t think that I can do this one without Shannon.” The next thing you know, the full band is on the stage, the lights are gyrating again, Jared’s holding an electric guitar and the energy level in the room increased about a thousand-fold. For “Closer to the Edge,” Jared hopped off the stage and sang much of the song from the edge of the barricade, making lining up hours before the show all worthwhile for those upfront. And remember those random confetti flakes? A big explosion and they (as well as the lone surviving balloon) were joined by a few gillion more. Nothing like a confetti cannon to bring the place to climax before leaving the stage.
The band returned for one last song. Inviting hordes of fans (including a couple of furries?) on stage for a full-on dance party for the night’s closer, “Closer to the Edge” which wrapped up the hour and 10 minute set and clearly left the fans wanting more.