Time To Forgive And Forget?
For some it would be easier to forgive Maradonna’s hand of god than it would be to forgive Linkin Park. After all it was the Californian six piece that opened the flood gates for nu metal, callously leaving us to bear the brunt of bands like Limp Bizkit and P.O.D. Now with the tombstone firmly wedged on nu metal’s grave, Linkin Park are one of the few to have to evolved, letting their sound mature and their fan base grow and coming back with bite and venom to finally throw off that painful label.
Draping the stage in a curtain, the first sight of Linkin Park are oversized ghost like silhouettes that eerily merge with an industrial stage set up so befitting of the band. As the sextet intensely build up euphoria, playfully relinquishing subtle snippets of beats, the curtain drops and ‘What I’ve Done’ explodes into life, gently teasing with its calm verses before thundering through the crowd with a juggernaut like chorus that has bodies moving in unison, jumping enthusiastically before erupting in an overjoyed fit of rage as ‘Faint’ exudes even more vitality into the crowd. Brimming with energy and intoxicatingly engaging, Linkin Park’s full return to the capital has been long coming and even the band look genuinely pleased to be back, almost in awe at the sight of the O2 crowd waiting with baited breath for the next song to go insane to. As Chester Bennington briefly pauses to welcome the crowd, keen not to loose momentum, the band proceed to relentlessly unleash a set list bursting with the passion driven brashness of ‘Somewhere I Belong’, through to the skin flaying brute force of ‘Points Of Authority’ to the newer more mellow, reflective side of Linkin Park in the form of ‘Lying From You’. It’s a set that reflects a band that’s matured but one that’s still chomping at the bit and undeniably thirsty for more.
Looking very much like the scrawny kid at school who continually got picked on, Bennington manages to cover the entire stage, becoming a larger than life character who commands your attention as he effortlessly delivers blood curdling shrieks that seemingly ease into angelic murmurs in a blink of an eye. And in Mike Shinoda he has the ideal co-front man to spar off. Cheekily teasing Shinoda over what they are going to sing next, Bennington playfully jokes how the crowd wants to be serenaded by the guitarist come piano player come rapper, reducing Shinoda to a laughing wreck who proceeds to play a tune he learnt in the car a few days prior going to another show. As strains of Rhianna’s ‘Umbrella’ echo around the arena backed by Shinoda’s giggling vocals and heckling laughter from the crowd, it is Bennington’s turn to be left sniggering, appealing to the crowd to make some noise for Rhianna as the two friends succumb to a fit of hysterics that leaves no one in doubt of the sincere friendship between them. The joking has only just started though as Bennington again pokes fun at Shinoda, this time due to his broken lighter failing to work and set the scene for the next track, teasingly revealing that they had borrowed the pyros from My Chemical Romance before being forced to scrounge a lighter from the crowd. With the pyros taken care of it is the softer voiced Bennington that latches on to everyone’s heart strings as the mesmerising beauty of ‘Shadow Of The Day’ leaves all transfixed, making way for a final onslaught of aggressive guitars and visceral shrieks as ‘Crawling’ and ‘In The End’ whip the crowd to life once more, culminating robustly with ‘Bleed It Out’. With encores that see the inclusion of former B side ‘My December’ and ‘Breaking The Habit’ getting an airing it is left for the band’s first single to bring an end to proceedings. As the first beats of ‘One Step Closer’ echo throughout, the crowd’s intensity and energy is electrified, exploding into a foray of anthemic singing as the anger fuelled track is exposed in all its innate raw wonder.
For all their polished professionalism Linkin Park are still clearly a band that are enjoying doing what they do. And whilst their grasp at perfectionism would make any other band look fake and contrived, for Linkin Park it just reinforces the fact that this is their band and they control everything about it. Nu metal is dead and Linkin Park is certainly having a hell of a time at the wake.