Backed by a 20-piece choir, Thirty Seconds To Mars delivered a touching tribute to several icons who’ve died in the past couple of years — David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington — with a complex medley at the IHeartRadio Festival Friday night in Las Vegas.
The medley — which kicked off the band’s set — included snippets of Bowie’s 1977 classic, “Heroes,” Prince’s “Purple Rain,” Michael’s “Freedom,” Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Linkin Park’s “Crawling.”
The group also performed the medley for the BBC earlier this month (see video below).
The band — which also includes drummer Shannon Leto and multi-instrumentalist Tomo Miličević — continued with a solid set of its own material, including “Kings and Queens,” “Up in the Air” and their new single, “Walk on Water.” The band invited a couple dozen audience members onstage to dance during the home stretch.
Losing both Bennington and Cornell—who passed away after taking their own lives—was “a great loss,” the 2014 Academy Award winner Best Supporting Actor in the film, Dallas Buyers Club, told Variety in a backstage interview.
Losing all of the icons was rough, Leto told Variety in an interview backstage, but “losing Chris and Chester in such a short time is shocking and brutal,” he said. “Chester was a tremendous person and an incredible artist,” he said of Bennington, who’d introduced Thirty Seconds to Mars at the iHeartradio Awards in 2014; sadly, Leto returned the gesture by paying tribute to Bennington and Cornell in August at the MTV Video Music Awards.
“I was glad that I could be there for the family and the friends and the band and just support [Bennington] and try to honor him in the best way possible,” he said. Linkin Park, accompanied by members of System of a Down, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Bring Me the Horizon, Yellowcard and others, will pay tribute to their late singer with a concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 27.
Asked if Thirty Seconds to Mars will participate, Leto answered, “I don’t know as of yet.”
The iHeartRadio Festival concludes tonight (Sept. 23) with performances by Miley Cyrus, DJ Khaled, Lorde, Niall Horan, Thomas Rhett, Kesha, Big Sean and Kings of Leon.