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30 Seconds to Mars, ‘Unplugged’ – EP Review

30 Seconds to Mars Unplugged EP
Virgin Records

MTV’s ‘Unplugged’ was one of the network’s most popular shows in the 1990s, when the likes of Nirvana, Hole, Kiss and LL Cool J stripped down and performed acoustically before a live studio audience. It’s a cool convention where rock bands show off their “sensitive” side, and the Jared Leto-fronted 30 Seconds to Mars did just that when they recorded an ‘Unplugged’ session for MTV.

Now, a 30STM EP collecting four songs – three originals and a cover of U2′s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name ‘– is available for fans of the band who want to gobble up every shred of material that the group releases.

30 Seconds to Mars show off their ability to be tender with the spare version of ‘Hurricane,’ which is one of their biggest hits. The version really is Leto’s moment, as his voice drives the song. The audience offers an assist by singing along, so you’ll feel front and center at a 30 Seconds to Mars show. Close your eyes and you’ll swear Leto is sweating on you! That’s how immediate the performance is and it comes to life through in the audio.

The version of ‘Kings and Queens’ is also made gentle and moves forward thanks to the room-filling strumming, while ‘Night of the Hunter’ manages to assert itself as stripped down and epic, at all once. That’s not easy to do, but 30 Seconds to Mars make it sound easy and they have truly come into their own as a real band.

Now, about that U2 cover: While U2 songs are often sacred ground, 30STM handle their rendition of ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ perfectly, showing the skills that Jared Leto utilized to transition smoothly from actor to rock frontman. His voice has a vulnerable quality here and the band builds up to the breakdown in tight fashion. Once again, the audience joins Leto on the vocals and it’s painfully obvious that 30 Seconds to Mars are not just a band, but a lifestyle, for their fans.

Listen to 30 Seconds to Mars, ‘Unplugged’ EP:
‘Hurricane’

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‘Kings and Queens’

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‘Night of the Hunter’

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‘Where the Streets Have No Name’

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