Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds to Mars Perform Secret Concert in Philly

Thirty Seconds to Mars
Thirty Seconds to Mars

Last night in Philadelphia, actor Jared Leto, his brother Shannon, and the rest of their band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, celebrated their upcoming album Love Lust Faith + Dreams (EMI, May 21) with a secret free concert at the Temple University Performing Arts Center for radio station WRFF 104.5 FM.

“I heard a voice,” said Leto, standing at the front of the stage at Temple before a crowd of 900. Play-acting as if he were speaking the Lord’s good gospel, the lean, sunglasses-wearing Leto did his best white-guy preacher impersonation with his hands held high in the air. “That voice said Philly was up for a free show. And the only thing that you ever got for free were fish sticks that your mom gave you.”

Maybe in the Leto household this fish stick thing was true, who knows. Carrying a guitar nearly bigger than his small frame, Leto yelled out, “let’s turn this song into a prayer,” before heading into the sleek-but-sullen “Closer to the Edge” from their multi-platinum 2009 album, This is War.

That song, along with the rest of Thirty Seconds to Mars’ short, sharp Philly set, was focused, slick, sad, modern rock with a prog twist for the millennial generation. That’s the band’s schtick. Like The Cure – only better looking and on steroids – Thirty Seconds to Mars hit you with songs such as “Night of the Hunter” that loom gloomily through the darkness with but a single ray of light (or romance) to brighten their journey. That’s a compliment. Every tune was an epic punctuated by clean double drum sounds, flanged guitars, and Leto’s clear vibrato-less baritone.

At first, there wasn’t a lot of drama in Leto's voice as he crooned smoothly through ragers and ravers such as “Kings and Queens” and “This is War.” Then Leto & Co. transitioned into material from its upcoming album Love Lust Faith + Dreams. Suddenly, new anthemic songs such as “Do or Die” and its sequence-heavy, mood-swinging single “Up in the Air” (the first copy of which was carried aboard NASA’s SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station) showed a delicious, stadium-ready theatricality with Leto screaming and doing that creepy vocal-fry thing while stalking the stage like a skinny panther.

The Philadelphia Thirty Seconds to Mars show was part of a brief outing - the Church of Mars tour - that touches down at the historic St. Peter's Church in Chelsea, New York City, tonight, and will be filmed by online music and video hub VEVO.

Photo ©Jared Leto