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Thirty Seconds To Mars - iTunes Festival, Camden Roundhouse - September 18 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Ah, the Camden Roundhouse. Since its conversion from an engine shed to an arts space in the mid-’60s, this legendary venue has hosted everyone from Led Zeppelin to Lady Gaga, Opeth to James Blunt, Devin Townsend to Foo Fighters. It's a monument to music, and with the recent inception of the iTunes Festival lucky punters can now catch their heroes in its intimate confines throughout the month of September. On this particular occasion, Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds To Mars were treading the boards.

Having braved the ticketing system and the attentions of a very rude Apple employee, support act the Family Rain attacked the eardrums with all the subtlety of shoes made of breezeblocks. Their raucous brand of ballsy blues rock, with a hint of up-tempo indie swagger thrown in, appealed to the vast majority of the audience. 

Frontman William Walter is a rock star in the making. He's rugged enough to make guys want to be him and make all the girls fancy him. His brothers, Timothy and Ollie, handled the drums and lead guitars respectively, leaving their sibling to look after vocals and bass duties. 

The chemistry between the trio is blatantly obvious, giving off a refreshingly genuine stage presence. The boys will head back to criminally tiny UK venues later this year, so do not miss them. You've been warned.

Now. Thirty Seconds To Mars. Where to start with Thirty Seconds To Mars. The band gets a lot of hate in the more metal end of the musical spectrum and their ill-fated performance at Download Festival earlier this year saw them suffer at the unforgiving hands of Rammstein fans. To be fair, the music itself isn't as far removed from metal as some may think, with many noodly prog sections nodding towards greats like Tool.

More than the music, most people have a bit of beef with Leto. Tonight, it's plain to see why. After a painfully long prelude, including two blokes in gasmasks shining torches on the audience, he emerged from the backstage caverns to join his bandmates. Clad in a militaristic black jacket, skinny jeans and sunglasses, inside, Leto was dressed for the occasion as the band ran through the opening bars of Night Of The Hunter. If there was a mute button, it could have been a Topman advert.

Setlist wise, it was a pretty pleasing affair. New cuts were interspersed between the hits and Thirty Seconds To Mars know how to please a crowd. There was enough material here for newcomers to clutch onto, while still retaining the old favourites to keep the fans happy. The sing along intro to This Is War was a particular highlight, with Do Or Die from the 'Love Lust Faith + Dreams' album providing a similar moment. Tub thumper Shannon Leto is an absolute powerhouse, and he smashed the absolute shit out of his kit with expert precision. Hate this band all you want, but they have one hell of a drummer.

Leto strutted across the stage, plucking up punters from the baying moshpit only to usher them to the back, where they proceeded to sit like naughty children. He then took requests, denying a girl the pleasure of watching him 'twerk', and at times it was as if he had sat for hours analysing the live performances of Iggy Pop and Andrew WK. He then decided to perform The Kill on his own, the band's signature tune. This smacked of a self-indulgent display of snobbery.

After The Jared Leto Show, the other two came back on to end on Up In The Air. The crowd loved it, and, to be fair, it was a decent rock show. The band played well, the stage show was great (if somewhat bizarre), and Leto's vocals were on cracking form. Half of the crowd lapped it up, while the other half gawped in wide eyed disbelief at Leto’s antics. He's not the messiah, he's not even a very naughty boy, and once he realises this, his band might receive the credit from the rock and metal crowd that they actually deserve.

30 Seconds to Mars UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Thu November 14th 2013 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
Fri November 15th 2013 - BIRMINGHAM NIA
Sat November 16th 2013 - MANCHESTER Phones 4u Arena
Mon November 18th 2013 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Metro Radio Arena
Tue November 19th 2013 - GLASGOW The Hydro
Thu November 21st 2013 - NOTTINGHAM Capital FM Arena
Fri November 22nd 2013 - PLYMOUTH Plymouth Pavilions
Sat November 23rd 2013 - LONDON The O2 Arena
Mon November 25th 2013 - DUBLIN The O2
Tue November 26th 2013 - BELFAST Odyssey Arena

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