LIVE: THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS @ MILANO ROCKS – SEPTEMBER 8TH 2018 0 35

On the closing day of Milano Rocks 2018, after two nights of (what I read were) great performances from The National and Imagine Dragons, it was the turn of US rock band Thirty Seconds To Mars to entertain the scores of music lovers in attendance.

Before they took to the stage however, it was first up to electronica duo Sonars to warm the crowd up. They tried their best, but with all of their tracks sounding ridiculously the same, it didn’t take them long to lose the attention and interest of the thousands upon thousands present, the majority of whom occupied themselves instead by soaking up the scorching Italian sunshine, having a few drinks, or doing both.

Mike Shinoda, whose support slot announcement had gone down a storm with fans particularly on Twitter, was a hit from the moment he stepped on stage, opening his set with the Fort Minor song “Remember The Name” before following it up with “When They Come For Me” and “Roads Untraveled.” It wasn’t until the fourth song in his set that he introduced his own tracks, and he chose a great one to start off with: “Ghosts,” which had the fans before him singing along to every word.

Taking the time to look out over the mass of people that stretched back as far as he could see, Mike spoke about how he liked to meet fans before shows and about one guy in particular who had asked if he could play guitar on one song. Moments later, he called that guy on stage and sure enough, picking up the instrument, the young man did a great job of playing along with Mike and his band, receiving a huge round of applause for his efforts.

A few songs later, Mike took a few minutes to express his appreciation and gratitude to everyone who had supported himself and the band over years, and especially during the past year or so. Addressing the difficult time he and the band had gone through since Chester’s death, he thanked everyone who had come together to be there for them, and for one another. “You came out on social media, you came out in person…you honoured the band, and more importantly, you honoured Chester.” What followed was a highlight of his set as he asked if the crowd would sing Chester’s parts, and began singing “In The End” – the sound of 60,000+ people singing in powerful and heartfelt unison was enough to raise goosebumps on arms everywhere.

The rest of Mike’s set was just as good as he delivered a little something for everyone – the likes of “Numb” and “Papercut” thrilled the LP fans, while those more into his solo material were ‘rewarded’ with “About You” and “Make It Up As I Go”. As he closed out his time on stage with “Running From My Shadow”, the cheers and applause that he received echoed long after he’d disappeared from view.

After a wait of around half an hour and with the sun having set some time ago, the lights on stage went down once more and the powerful intro that is “Monolith” saw the crowd once again come alive roaring their approval and excitement at what was to come. “Up In The Air” kicked in and the venue became a mass of jumping bodies, before “Kings & Queens” saw the first – but not the last – massive sing-along of their set.

“From Yesterday” has long-since been a fan favourite and so, when the opening notes began playing, the response was instantaneous, with a huge cheer echoing around the massive space, and at Jared’s instruction, the crowd duly sang along, then took over for a part. Fan interaction has been a big part of the Monolith Tour and tonight’s show proved to be no different with Jared calling up a number of people from the pit area to join him and Shannon on stage. Within a couple of minutes, he had several new ‘friends’ gathered around him, including a couple of guys in shark and unicorn onesies and he had the group, as he got each side of the crowd to sing the “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!” that would eventually lead into “Do Or Die”, decide whether the left or the right were loudest. As the left had often been victorious at recent shows, it was a refreshing change of sorts to see the right side (AKA mine) to come out on top, and the performance itself saw Jared pick up and proudly wave an Italian flag as he moved from one end of the stage to the other.

“Hail To The Victor” soon had the place jumping again, before “Rescue Me” saw Jared call up a few more people as he asked for “the worst dancers I’ve ever seen in my entire life”, but what he actually got was a young boy who put his own flossing skills to shame. Next, Jared requested that everyone to take out their phones and hold them up, as “City Of Angels” turned the arena into a stunning sea of lights.

Ever since the Echelon had first discovered that “Remedy” was in fact sung by Shannon and since he first performed it at a US date on the tour, European fans everywhere had and have been hoping they’d see and hear it at theirs. Tonight they did, and, with Jared off stage, the elder Leto got his chance to shine, and duly took it, delivering a fantastic performance that included a long and high note in the middle that I for one had never heard him do before which duly impressed everyone present and saw him receive a huge and lengthy cheer and round of applause.

As the set began to draw to a close, and with Shannon back at his kit, Jared walked back on stage having changed his pants into a pair that were slightly looser, and the pair, after a slight technical issue which saw them re-start the song, launched into “The Kill.” Given the fact that the song is largely responsible for a lot of their success, it wasn’t at all surprising to see and hear the thousands present sing along at the top of their voices to every word and harmonise surprisingly well during the “oh-oh-oh-oh” parts. What many people perhaps didn’t expect however was Jared leaving the stage and making his way to the barrier, standing and leaning over the crowd as he sang the closing chorus.

Once back on stage, he asked the all too familiar question: “Anyone want to come on stage with 30 Seconds To Mars?” Said stage was soon filled – as usual – with VIP’ers and scores of lucky people picked by Jared from down the front area including one guy who, perched on someone’s shoulders, was spotted with a moustache and wearing a bra; not exactly something you see every day. With easily close to 80, if not more, people now standing behind him, and around Shannon, “Closer To The Edge” saw the venue once again come together to sing the “No! No No! No!” parts, with thousands upon thousands of people losing themselves in the music, and the moment. The performance rounded off a set that had entertained the crowds from the start and hopefully meant that the band wouldn’t be gone too long before coming back to Italy.

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REVIEW: EMMA BLACKERY – VILLAINS 0 37

Having already channelled the events – and the highs and lows – of her life into her previous releases, 2012’s Human Behaviour, Distance, released in 2013, 2014’s Perfect, 2016’s Sucks To Be You and last years’ Magnetised, YouTube sensation and singer Emma Blackery has continued along a similar path with her first full length album titled Villains.

Opening with the atmospheric rhythm that accompanies “Villains Pt. 1”, the collection gets off to a positive start, assisted by the follow-up, album lead single “Dirt.” However it’s on “Agenda” that the collection really kicks into gear. A bold, sharp and ultimately uplifting pop anthem, the song brims with positivity, all of which stems from celebratory, self-confident lyrics such as “I’m confident, I know it scares ya, scares ya…Bye-bye, good riddance, the rules have been re-written” that are sure to inspire those who hear them, and encourage all those who do to be themselves and ignore or forget anyone who doesn’t like or accept them for who they are.

Addressing the issue of having someone in your life you’d love to call out and settle a score with, “Fake Friends” is one of those songs that will likely stick with any listener who identifies with the issue about which Emma is singing. It’s hugely positive and encouraging to find that the song ultimately ends with Emma deciding it’s best to move on, and this in itself could well inspire others in similar situations to let go of the stress of the matter and live their lives as fully and as happily as possible. “Icarus” is a surprisingly similar song, and once again sees Emma taking the high road and ultimately being the better person in the situation she’s addressing. If there are any two songs that sum up who and how Emma is today as an individual, I for one would go with these two.

Having always channelled her thoughts and feelings into her music, Emma appears somewhat reflective on “Third Eye,” written about how over the years, she’s come to know the signs of those who are ready to go or have gone up against her. Life, as we all know, is full of lessons and this song is Emma’s testament to how she’s learned them and in some cases, has learned them the hard way and now she’s more wary and aware of who and what to look for when it comes to those she surrounds herself with.

There’s an almost simmering and undeniable sadness to “What I Felt With You”, although the tempo and mood soon lifts again thanks to “Burn The Witch.” Closer “Villains Pt. 2″ features what can only be described as an explosive instrumental which is combined with lyrics including: “Am I kidding myself, blaming somebody else, I’m my own biggest villain,” that suggest Emma is continuing to look inside herself to address the thoughts and answer the questions that might be plaguing her.

Ultimately, Villains as a whole works as a strong showcase of just how far Emma Blackery has come since 2012, and having earned herself an impressive army of fans during those years, this collection could, and should, easily earn her a few more.

CHRIS EVANS QUITS BBC RADIO 2 0 25

Chris Evans has announced he will leave Radio 2, and will present his last show in December.

The Radio 2 presenter has been at the BBC for 13 years, told listeners this morning on his show. Announcing it on the show he said a hot topic in his house for a little while was “the fact I’m going to leave”.

He added: “Some of us our mountain climbers, and if you get to the top of your favourite mountain and stay there, you become a mountain observer.

Evans said: “I have absolutely loved every single moment of my time at Radio 2. The last 13 years have flashed by in what seems like the blink of an eye. I have learnt so much from so many people to whom I will be eternally grateful.

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