During an evening of grandiose rock at Starlight Theatre on Monday, two of the best moments derived from intimate interactions between musicians and members of the capacity audience of almost 8,000.
Muse and Thirty Seconds to Mars are theatrical bands with unapologetically bombastic styles. While the lavish stage productions were thoroughly engaging, the zeal with which each band’s front man performed a song amid fans in the center of the venue provided the most genuine thrills.
The British trio Muse is touring in support of “Drones,” the most recent of its seven shape-shifting albums. The group’s ability to adapt to marketplace trends has allowed it to maintain its status as one of the world’s most popular rock-based bands.
A propensity for histrionics was the only common element in Muse’s wildly diverse 95-minute headlining set. The trio played its soulful new pop single “Dig Down,” tore into heavy metal on “Stockholm Syndrome” and dabbled in electronic dance music on “Dead Inside.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Each ostentatious selection was augmented by banks of mobile video screens that displayed live footage and occasionally disturbing graphics.
Images of an eerie post-apocalyptic landscape accompanied the dyspeptic protest song “The Globalist.” As the guitarist and vocalist Matt Bellamy delivered Muse’s majestic signature song “Starlight” from a perch amid the audience, large white balloons were batted about near the stage.
Jared Leto, the front man of Thirty Seconds to Mars, had a similarly stirring encounter with fans. Leto limped up a center aisle during his band’s rousing anthem “Kings and Queens” before playing “The Kill” while surrounded by fans.
Better known as an actor than as a musician, Leto’s appearance likely distressed his admirers. Not only was his handsome face obscured by a full beard and mirrored sunglasses, he wore a bathrobe and leaned on an orthopedic cane as he sang the opening selection “Up in the Air.” He explained that “I busted my knee up at the last show” and gradually revealed an amiable personality that bore no resemblance to his portrayal of the diabolical Joker in the hit 2016 film “Suicide Squad.”
During his foray into the audience, Leto learned that a little boy was attending his first concert. Leto told him that “it’s all downhill from here.” If the child grows up with an appreciation of hyperbolic rock, Leto’s prediction will almost certainly come true.