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A Night Under the Stars with Jared Leto

On April 5th, nestled in the famously stunning red rocks of Sedona, AZ, a small crowd of about 20 fans gathered under the slowly setting sun. Everything was “hush-hush,” and security surrounded every vantage point. There was even a passphrase to gain entry to the grounds of The Enchantment Resort. A simple stage with a few amps, an acoustic guitar, and two microphones readily sat. Surrounding it, plush chairs were placed under the subtle glow of the ambient lights. Fans blissfully chattered while listening to Thirty Seconds to Mars’s latest album America, not set to release until the following day on April 6th through Interscope Records. Just as the stars in the sky began to brighten, so did the anticipation in the air. This was going to be an intimate show, to say the least.

With no opener necessary, Jared Leto, singer for the wildly popular band Thirty Seconds to Mars, and his touring guitarist pulled up in a tinted black Escalade. At once, cheers erupted. With that expected, suave air, Jared Leto approached the lush grass stage. Leto immediately addressed the crowd, gently teasing that there was “like three people here.” He promptly invited the crowd to move closer, again joking that he didn’t think they’d get so close. Leto talked about his travels across the country so far. He noted that he was in New Mexico merely a “few hours ago.” At this point, he excitedly put on a cowboy hat that he had acquired at one of the stops they’d made. Another souvenir from the tour? A slight frog in his throat that he promptly apologized for. Granted, it didn’t slow him down in the least bit.

Leto’s performance was relatively simple in the best way possible. There was no prepared set list. Instead, Leto spoke with the crowd and immediately encouraged the crowd make requests. Through the audience, he was inundated with song titles. Again, Leto laughed, “How are you going to make me sing songs I wrote 20 years ago? You think I still remember the lyrics?!” The crowd laughed and reminded him that they, of course, did. Every word. With a smile, he promised to perform the song with the help of the ever-enthusiastic audience. After a few requests, Leto was eager to perform America’s leading track “Walk on Water,” as well as “Rescue Me,” engaging the audience every step of the way. The entire set was done with just one acoustic guitar, Leto’s voice, and the eager voices of the small crowd.

Throughout the performance, Leto wasn’t shy with anyone–– crew or fans. He’d often stop mid-song to interact with an audience member or someone from the crew. Leto even grabbed my camera from me and looked through some of the photos, making a joke about his own face. Leto wasn’t shy about snagging fans’ cellphones, either, taking selfies during the set. Everyone at the location left with a personalized, memorable moment and a (of course) a selfie as proof of bragging rights. As the set wrapped up, he reminded fans that he was coming back to Arizona this summer (July 22nd at Ak-Chin Pavilion). Again, he made a joke, “What kind of tour manager puts a band in the hottest part of the country at the peak of summer? I don’t think they like us very much!” The crowd burst out with laughter. Then, just as quickly as he arrived, he left, with a small smile and a wave. The stars were certainly out in Sedona that night.

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