30 Seconds To Mars – Download Main Stage, June 12 2010

Variety is the spice of life and music is no different. Download prides itself on delivering the broadest range of rock music on the spectrum and Saturday’s headline acts were a prime example.

Having made the decision to catch 30 Seconds to Mars over rap rock monsters Rage Against the Machine, my choice was met with ridicule and in many quarters disgust. Some even went as far as to question my credentials as a rock fan!

Having never really understood the fascination with RATM’s repetitive use of bass and Zack de la Rocha’s monotonous rapping, I bit my tongue and laughed off the suggestions, fearing a public execution if heaven forbid I should air my true opinion.

The hatred in the voices of some of Download’s attendees whenever 30 Seconds were mentioned was surprisingly hostile – apparently they’re far too ‘emo’ for this festival. There was a sense of just reward then, as Jared Leto and co. delivered an incredible display for those in attendance.

Just like the band’s most recent record This Is War, the performance was interactive and oozing in coolness.

He may be a Hollywood actor but boy has Leto got the credentials to be a great rock star. With the most colourful Mohawk this side of the 80s (sporting a shocking pink colour on this occasion), the ability to whip up a crowd and an impressive vocal capacity all at his disposal.

An obvious pitfall of being an actor-cum-singer is the nagging doubt if his constant praise for the Download crowd was a well rehearsed line or truly sincere. Either way the young fans in attendance lapped up every line.

A stunning rendition of The Kill was undoubtedly the highlight of a crammed set list, still aching with the same emotion from the very first time it was played.

The major flaw of the set was Leto’s slightly over zealous use of the crowd to harmonise songs, it starts off as a good way to warm the crowd but after the 25th time it gets a bit old.

But let’s face it, half the bands over the weekend were guilty of what has to be the oldest trick in the book.

Finishing with the longest version of Kings And Queens you will ever hear and with 30 or so fans on stage, my decision was left totally justified (especially after catching the last half hour of RATM anyway).

If 30 Seconds can build on the momentum they seem to be gathering, the band could become one of the greats even if it’s not for the Download masses. But it’s a big if.

The nagging doubt is that should Mr Leto be offered a big part in a major movie blockbuster the band could be shelved. The band and its fans don’t deserve that and it may only be a personal gripe but a fear I’m sure at least a few share none the less.

Oh and one last thing – sort your hair out mate.

Andy Spoors