Linkin Park @ O2 Arena, London – 9/10
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Linkin Park live, the last time of which was only back in June at Download Festival where they played their debut record in its entirety. The overall experience could be summed up with one word… meh.
Sunday night at the O2 Arena I went in with much lower expectations owing to the fact that I loathe LP’s latest record The Hunting Party which I presumed would dominate the set. I haven’t liked much of their stuff post 2003 barring literally 4 songs but even going back to Hybrid Theory and Meteora for the first time in months I’ve realised I’m not all that fussed about the classics anymore either…
I’m just bored of Linkin Park!
So yes, I was dragged to a show to see a relic of my youth play songs I’ve either heard live a dozen times before or new ones I think are kinda shit and ya know what? I fucking loved it!
The band has changed the format of their live show considerably since their last major tour in the UK. The band has always made the point of adding little extras to their songs at gigs (eg. extended intros/outros and samples from Reanimation tracks added in to their Hybrid Theory counterparts etc) but ultimately it was always a conventional rock concert. Now they’re doing all sorts of crazy shit with their back catalogue. For starters they fired out partial versions of various old numbers quite early on such as Papercut and Runaway with the second verse and chorus omitted. They did some strange piano arrangement of Leave out all the rest fused with Shadow of the Day which was played over samples from Radiance while Wisdom Justice and Love was mashed up with Castle of Glass to create something entirely different. The setlist I’ve set out below will give you a better idea rather than me describing in length. It was a very different experience to any LP show I’ve seen before, it proved to be both refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable. I also want to make a note that the newest material is 10 times better live! Rebellion and Wastelands were particular highlights. In fact the only real nadir of the whole evening was the opener Guilty all the Same which I think is utterly lifeless on the album and being played live doesn’t sweeten it one iota.
The sound was pretty damn tight barring a couple of minor issues – Chester’s mic got pushed out of the mix on a couple of occasions early on and something went really wrong during Burn it Down where half the instruments cut out and were replaced with some strange reverb noise but other than that the very extensive set was performed with great quality and energy.
Going back to our frontman, Chester was on top form vocally. Despite being 38 years old he hasn’t lost the teenage angst his early vocal deliveries were famous for. The screams were on top form (although I have yet to see him perform the full 18 second howl in Given Up without pausing part way but I’m being seriously nitpicky here) and when everything calmed down he sung the ballads beautifully.
In the past both frontmen would talk to crowd between songs but the banter was significantly reduced this time round but this was probably due to the new format of the live show where the music never really stopped with the exception of one break part way.
The light display was a huge part of the show. Three large hollow cubes hung above the stage and would occasionally be lowered to engulf Joe’s deck table, Rob’s drum kit and Mike’s keyboards all the while firing out a psychedelic display of bright, weird and wonderful imagery.
Mr Hahn has become a bit of a token member on their studio efforts these days, even Mike once joked that he spends most of his time on stage checking his emails but he played a massive part in this particular performance. He was firing out samples and scratch solos to act as transitions between virtually every song not to mention he got his own instrumental section about halfway through.
If you’ve seen Linkin Park before on previous tours then this will deliver something pleasantly new. Fans seeing them for the first time might be a bit confused, especially with their bold decision to cut a lot of the classics down to half their original running time but they’ve been playing the likes of Papercut at nearly every show for 14 years so I feel they are within their rights to seriously shake up the formula. It was a risk and in my opinion it paid off!
Intro (samples from Session, 1st Klosr, The Requiem, The Summoning, The Catalyst)
Guilty All the Same
One Step Closer
Papercut (part – samples from Wasteland)
Castle of Glass (samples from Wisdom Justice & Love)
Leave Out All the Rest/Shadow of the Day/Iridescent/Radiance mash-up
Robot Boy (part)
Mr Hahn Solo
Waiting for the End
Numb (Numb/Encore samples)
Wretches & Kings/Remember the Name mash-up
Dirt Off Your Shoulders/Lying From You
Somewhere I belong
In the End
Burn it Down
Lost in the Echo (part)
New Divide (part)
Until It’s Gone (part)
What I’ve Done
Bleed it Out/Drum Solo (samples from The Catalyst)
Review by Al Westlake