Yes, there are a lot of kids in the audience. Yes, frontman Jared Leto strikes a lot of well-practiced rockstar poses. And yes, there are plenty of demands that the audience throw their hands in the air or jump up and down. So, on the surface, it’s a pretty clichéd rock gig. Which you might have expected.
If that’s the case, you probably wouldn’t have expected it to be one of the best shows the U.A.E. has witnessed. A genuine bonding experience for crowd and band that was a perfect example of what a powerful and positive force a live performance can be. 30 Seconds To Mars put everything they had into this gig, and were rewarded with a wild reaction from the 8,000-strong audience from the very beginning.
We’ve been lucky enough to have some excellent shows in the Emirates over the last few years. But while many have been great, musically, they’ve generally witnessed an enthusiastic but polite response. This was a frenzy.
While his vocals are occasionally shaky, particularly in the lower register, Leto puts on a hell of a show, standing still only to deliver acoustic versions of “Hurricane” and “From Yesterday,” with a few thousand backing singers. The rest of the time, he’s a whirlwind of activity, continually inspiring the audience to louder and louder reaction.
The highpoints include a leap over the security barriers to crowd-surf (losing his shirt in the process) and inviting people to join the band on stage for the final song “Kings and Queens.” It was a nightmare for the security guys, but made for an unforgettable image as a mass of bodies crowded behind the band, waving the U.A.E. flag.
The unsung star, though, is Shannon Leto on drums. He hits hard. Between songs, he sits like a boxer between rounds, rolling his head to keep his neck muscles loose, spitting on the ground, before launching into another assault. They are as tight as you’d expect after 14 months on the road. And never seem jaded.
The band enjoyed this gig as much as the crowd, too. Jared proclaims the audience “one of the best we’ve ever played for.” Which could be rehearsed stage schtick. After the show, though, guitarist Tomo Milicevic insists that’s not the case. “I Tweeted right after the gig that they raised the bar for rock audiences,” he says. “We’re coming back as soon as we can.”