30 Seconds to Mars rock Boston with mixed results

A review of 30 Seconds to Mars with Anberlin at the Agganis Arena on May 1, 2011

, Editor-in-Chief

Once a full-time actor and part-time rocker, the roles have reversed in recent years for Jared Leto as his band has climbed the ladder of rock popularity. On Sunday, he led 30 Seconds to Mars back to Boston for their biggest show ever in the Hub, rocking the Agganis Arena for a 75-minute set that provided a mixed-bag of results.

Following an very substantial wait after Anberlin’s opening set, 30 Seconds to Mars finally made their way to the stage and launched into the one-two punch of “Escape” and “A Beautiful Lie”. Both songs are off the band’s most recent release, 2009’s This Is War, which comprised the majority of the set’s material. Celebrating “80’s night” (a special theme for the Boston show), Leto was clad in trench coat and sporting a new mustache along with aviator sunglasses. He was joined by his usual bandmates in drummer (and brother) Shannon Leto and guitarist Tomo Milicevic, as well a pair of touring members in bassist Tim Kelleher and keyboardist Braxton Olita.

Leto is a skilled showman, something that comes naturally to the 39-year old given his two decades worth of acting on the small and big screens. On stage, he is all about giving the crowd a show. Bu he’s not afraid to say its a two-way street and call anyone out for not helping elevate the experience for one another. Early in the set, Leto cut “Search and Destroy” short and took a timeout to assess the situation at hand including the divided general admission floor (saying the barriers made the fans look as if they were “cornered off like the zoo”) and fans that remained seating in the loge. It was a lengthy yet comical rant and when the band finally kicked back into the song, the crowd did respond with a renewed sense of energy.

Giant red balloons were released to the crowd during “This is War”, something that did seem odd giving the nature of the song. The band, particularly drummer Shannon Leto excelled during a stellar rendition of “Vox Populi” while his brother ran across the stage, shining a spotlight on the crowd. Midway through the show, came a solo acoustic set featuring fan favorites “Hurricane” and “Night of the Hunter”. The unplugged series dragged a tad but thankfully the band returned after the first verse of “The Kill” to give the song its much needed punch. It also allowed Leto to return to the role of frontman as he made his way into the crowd, jumping across loge seats to lead a vociferous sing-along.

Before closing out the main set, Leto declared that he wanted to see “jumping, chaos…the robot, the funky chicken.” He got the former as 30 Seconds o Mars launched into “Closer to the Edge” as the crowd sang back the chorus and chanted “no no no”. After a brief break, the band returned to the stage and Leto invited fans to join them on stage for the final encore, a process that again became lengthy as the band members jokingly ran through a few classic Metallica riffs. Once the stage was set, Leto led the crowd through a charged rendition of the band’s epic hit “Kings & Queens”.

Overall, the show was solid but failed to reach the next level that 30 Seconds to Mars has been known to hit in the past. Leto’s stage banter bordered on annoying at times, and often killed the momentum. The usual problems with acoustics at the Agganis Arena did not help much either, and the band seems to be one that would thrive much better on a festival field.

Anberlin was a perfect choice for the support slot. The Florida rockers kicked off their set with “Godspeed” and quickly got the crowd moving. Their energetic set included a mix of old favorites like “Paperthin Hymn” and new tunes off 2010’s Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place including their latest single “Impossible”. Anberlin rocked through “The Resistance” before closing out their set with their biggest hit to date, the infectious “Feel Good Drag”.

CB7, a new band featuring 30 Seconds to Mars’ drummer Shannon Leto, kicked off the show for early arrivals.

30 Seconds to Mars setlist
1 – Escape
2 – A Beautiful Lie
3 – Attack
4 – Search and Destroy
5 – This is War
6 – 100 Suns
7 – Vox Populi
8 – L490
9 – Hurricane
10 – Night of the Hunter
11 – The Kill
12 – Closer to the Edge
13 – Kings & Queens

Anberlin setlist

1 – Godspeed
2 – We Owe This to Ourselves
3 – Paperthin Hymn
4 – Never Take Friendship Personal
5 – Impossible
6 – Pray Tell
7 – Closer
8 – The Resistance
9 – Feel Good Drag

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