Set against the stunning red rock formations in the northern Arizona town of Sedona, Jared Leto treated an intimate group of fans to a full listen of Thirty Seconds to Mars’ new record, America.
Aptly titled “A Night Under the Stars,” on the Mars Across America Tour, these lucky fans gathered in the crisp night air for the evening of a lifetime last Thursday.
Sedona’s elite mountain retreat, Enchantment Resort, hosted this lush event, providing a cozy, campfire-esque setting for listening party. America played through outdoor speakers as the sun set behind the group, giving the small audience the chance to truly experience the songs.
Leto keeps his band within the formula he’s built over a long and illustrious career. The songs are well-produced, slick in their execution and will translate beautifully to a grandiose stage production. It may not necessarily be anything new, but America is the band’s best work in recent memory.
The electronic influence is much stronger on this record, but without being overwhelming or pandering to a trend. As always, the songs showcase Leto’s ageless, soaring vocals- especially on tracks like “Rescue Me” and the Halsey-assisted “Love is Madness.” This record meanders a bit, but does not shy away from Leto’s polarizing political views. It is meant to speak to the events that are shaping today’s world and Leto’s earnest delivery gives the record a beautiful melancholia.
While the album playback was fantastic, Leto’s arrival brought the night up several notches.
“I’m feelin’ like Bon Jovi in ‘86,” he said as he put on his new cowboy hat, drawing a laugh from the crowd. Leto was very engaged with his audience, encouraging them to sing loudly back to him. He also spoke briefly about the album itself, citing influences like The Who, Led Zeppelin and even Cyndi Lauper.
Assisted on acoustic guitar by Stevie Aiello, Leto opened the short set with the band’s newest single, “Walk on Water.” Though he was battling a slight cold, his voice hardly ever wavered and even seemed to get stronger as the night went on.
The duo played “Rescue Me,” one of the most anthemic cuts on the new album before treating the fans to “Kings and Queens,” one of the band’s iconic singles. Leto left it to his audience to pick the last song and ultimately landed on their much-lauded cover of Rihanna’s “Stay.”
The evening was intimate and provided some diehard fans a true opportunity of a lifetime, as everyone watching was also able to meet and selfie with Leto at the end.
America was released on April 6 and fans across the world can catch these new songs live all summer long on The Monolith Tour.
Story by Olivia Khiel