Over the years, 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto has received a lot of slack as a musician for being more famous as a Hollywood actor. Some have questioned the authenticity of the band and whether "rock star" was just another one of Leto's many roles, while other bands took to interviews or Twitter to criticise him. But after their first UAE appearance at the Flash Forum on Yas Island on Friday, there's one thing you just can't deny — Leto is a born entertainer.
It goes without saying that rock/alternative gigs tend to be the most entertaining in the sense that there is a tonne of interaction with the audience. Go to any other concert and all that ticket-holders would probably get is a "hello Dubai/Abu Dhabi"; perhaps bring one fan on stage if lucky.
Although the 30 Seconds to Mars Abu Dhabi setlist was short (around an hour-and-a-half), the LA-based band definitely did not disappoint.
To honour the band's name, here is a 30-second summary of the gig that separates them from other artists who recently performed in the region:
1) Frontman Leto's voice is as tight as ever, and the band sounds fantastic live, covering all their big tracks, such as This is War, The Kill and Hurricane.
2) When calling for fans to join him on stage, Leto insisted the first fan he chose must be Emirati — to honour "this beautiful country."
3) Praise for the UAE did not stop there — during one of the songs, Leto held a massive flag of the UAE (I have never seen any other non-Arab artist do that over here). He repeatedly stated how much he loved the UAE, and told fans that people questioned the band's decision of coming to the Middle East, with what's happening in the region at the moment. "They don't know what they're talking about," he said.
4) Leto slammed ticket categories, saying that fans shouldn't be separated according to ticket price and that gigs should just have one standard ticket price (promoters please take note). "Had I had known about this, I would have stepped in and done something about it," he said.
5) For Kings & Queens, the band invited 20 fans on stage. And although 20 turned into about 50 thanks to some barriers being knocked down, Leto welcomed them all, and even the band's crew took care of the fans at all times.