You know that feeling when you’re listening to a song and it feels really familiar? Maybe it’s playing on the radio, or a friend turned it on, but you absolutely love it and need to know who plays it. Perhaps you have heard it before, but only now are hearing it with fresh ears. That happened to me recently, when my brother put on a song called “A Beautiful Lie.” I had actually heard it many times before, but it was always hidden among many songs that I didn’t particularly like, so I would not really be listening. But this time was different. We were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner one night, and he put the song on. It was familiar to me—after all, I’d been hearing it for a few years—but I’d never really listened to it. It was incredible; I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized it sooner. The band was Thirty Seconds to Mars, and I was hooked. I began listening to them all the time. When I was in my dorm room, my roommates hardly ever saw me without my vFree on. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that they would be playing at the Hollywood Bowl on October 12.
The concert was absolutely amazing. It was brilliant, a breathtakingly beautiful performance. Tomo Miličević was on guitar and keyboards, Shannon Leto on drums and percussion, and Jared Leto with his amazing voice. Leto’s vocals were transcendental, ranging from low and visceral to high and angelic, and everything in between. His voice has the power to make you feel any emotion, bringing tears to your eyes with sorrow or joy, making you curl your fists in anger, causing you to sing with him about dreams as your eyes well up in hope.
The show opened with a band from Copenhagen called New Politics. Then came Panic! at the Disco, who played some songs from their new album interspersed among some of their better-known songs, such as “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “The Ballad of Mona Lisa.” At this point, the crowd was fired up and excited for Thirty Seconds to Mars to take the stage. The lights dimmed, and the beginning of “Birth” began to play. As the song transitioned into “Night of the Hunter,” the band appeared on stage and the crowd went wild. The upbeat song got our blood pumping and immediately involved. We all sang as loudly as we could, lost in the moment. Then came the angry “Search and Destroy” before “This Is War.” Jared did a great job getting us involved: holding the microphone out to the audience for parts of the song, running out into the audience, along pathways, engaging with the audience. “Conquistador” followed, from their new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams.
At this point, the band played “Do or Die,” “City of Angels”, “Buddha For Mary,” “Depuis Le Début,” “Pyres of Varanasi,” and “End of All Days.” “City of Angels” really hit home with the audience because it’s a song about our city and the dreams that brought us here. It’s emotional and personal, and it touched each and every one of us, even those who don’t live here. A pair of acrobats on a seesaw provided the perfect distraction for Jared Leto to sneak out into the crowd, unnoticed. All of the sudden, a spotlight shone directly onto the center of the Bowl, illuminating Jared with an acoustic guitar. The crowd went wild, my brother and I included. Jared was playing a set for us, up in the nosebleed section! He played an acoustic version of my favorite song, “Hurricane,” in such a sorrowful and moving manner as to bring tears to my eyes. It was beautiful, and I sang myself hoarse on that song. Next came “The Kill,” their most famous song, but played in a much more subdued manner. Then it was his beautiful rendition of Rihanna’s “Stay,” which sounds like it was written for his voice.
Jared returned to the stage then, and the band played “Kings and Queens” and “Closer to the Edge.” They told us that it was time to see the premiere of their music video for “City of Angels.” Like most of their videos, Bartholomew Cubbins (Jared Leto’s pseudonym) directed it. I can’t say much about the video (as it has yet to be released) but that it was beautiful and brought many of us to tears. It was a gift, and we are all thankful that they chose to share it with us that night.
The concert was drawing to a close, and it was time for one last song. Finally, Thirty Seconds to Mars invited members of the audience up on the stage with them as they began to play “Up In The Air.” It was the perfect song to end the night. The whole audience knew it from start to finish, and we sang our hearts out. “Up In The Air” is a single from Love Lust Faith + Dreams, and it’s an incredible song. When my brother and I left that night, we were singing that song. Hours later, at two in the morning, we were still singing.