Review: Thirty Seconds to Mars – SSE Arena, Belfast

On Tuesday evening people of Belfast managed to pry themselves away from the sun, BBQ’s and beer gardens to go see the legendary Thirty Seconds to Mars.  As expected the night was filled with theatrics, lots of energy, fun and brilliant music.

The night opened with Dublin pop/rock band Keywest.  Their performance was flawless, and each band member truly showcased their talent as musicians.  The main focal point of the performance, however, was the crowd interaction.  At one point, lead singer Andrew Kavanagh stated, “we’re here to warm you up”. There is no denying that they fulfilled their role.  Their multiple anecdotes and general craic with the crowd made the SSE Arena feel like a very personal venue and undeniably had everyone ready for the rest of the evening.

After the standard scramble out of the venue for smokes and drinks we were ready for our main headliners.  The lights went down to black as cheers began to erupt.  Thirty Seconds to Mars flags were being waved around amongst the standing area as the instrumental “Monolith” began to play.  The anticipation was rising as cheers were getting louder.  Finally lead singer Jared Leto bounced onto the stage before shouting “Are you ready to sing with me?”  They went straight into their track “Up in The Air” as huge amounts of energy and excitement filled the arena.

After an explosive first track the lights went down before they began to play the much loved “Kings and Queens”.  People were singing their hearts out as Jared showcased his strong vocal range.  From the very start of the gig the crowd interaction was the forefront of the performance.  Whilst Shannon Leto focused more on his continuous and flawless drumming, Jared was encouraging the crowd to sing along and jump at specific points of the song.  He had complete command over the venue to the point where screams filled the arena when he simply took his sunglasses off.

The night consisted of a range of tracks from across the bands career including older gems such as “The Kill” and “This is War”.  Whilst the actual stage was very minimalist, the theatrics were rife throughout the set.  During “This is War” in particular, the black and white backdrop juxtaposed with a release of huge bouncy balls into the crowd added to the excitement and genuine fun of the show.

The crowd interaction was a major part of this show and made the Belfast gig seem special, not just another date on the tour.  At one-point Jared stated “This might be one of the smallest shows on the tour, but it feels like one of the biggest… We love Belfast so much.”  The continuous appreciation he showed Belfast alongside stunts such as bringing fans on stage throughout the show made this night feel like it was completely for our enjoyment.  One of the standout moments for me was when a wee girl in the crowd holding a sign was brought up on stage to watch from the side.

As the night went on we heard more of the newer tracks from the band including “Hail to the Victor” (which will be featured during the World Cup).  Jared even asked the crowd “Is it ok if we play a new song?”  It was great to hear the older gems that we all love but also refreshing to hear their newer songs.  It showcased how their music has changed over the years and yet they have remained a big name in the music scene.

After a mad and energetic night, the gig was brought to a close with a fan favourite “Closer to the Edge”.  Before they went into the song Jared proceeded to randomly pick people in the venue and brought them up on stage to join them.  People were going mad dancing on and off stage and singing their hearts out before masses of confetti were released.  They stated that they would not wait so long to return to Belfast again.  Following the reception they received at the SSE I think that they would be welcomed with open arms.