The biggest of the big boys of 21st century rock were in town for two nights at London's mammoth O2 Arena this week. Can you learn anything new about a band this familiar? We were always gonna try GODDAMN IT!
Linkin Park, live in London
Venue: O2 Arena, London
Support: Of Mice & Men
It Was Always Gonna Be Tough For Of Mice & Men, But They Pull It Out The Bag
It's not sold out tonight, and the doors have only been open for half an hour, but there's still a hell of a lot of people present to watch Of Mice & Men open up tonight's show in an impressive way. It's a thankless task when you're a support band on an arena tour, but the confidence in which OM&M go about it makes it clear that this is a challenge the Orange County metallers relish. Austin Carlile struts around the stage screaming his guts up as opener Public Service Announcement jolts the early comers out of their comfort zone. It's slightly muted to start with, but slowly and surely you see the pumping fists begin to spread and the decibels of approval rise with each passing song. By the time they finish with You're Not Alone it can only be considered a job well done. Especially when you hear the cheer that greets Austin and guitarist Aaron Pauley when they join Linkin Park onstage later that evening. And with a crowd as... Umm... Eclectic as Linkin Park's that has be a hugely satisfying result.
Linkin Park Can Still Rock When The Mood Takes Them
How you feel about Linkin Park and the audience they command will depend on whether you're a cup half empty or half full kind of person. There are plenty of admirable elements onstage; the lights and stage production is breathtaking, with cages unleashing the six members before doubling up as video screens that project all manner of spectacular images across the O2. Also the band start the set with the bit between their teeth, beginning with two of their heaviest songs, in Guilty All The Same and_ Given Up_, before running through three of their back catalogue's stone cold classics from Hybrid Theory. Hearing Points Of Authority into One Step Closer into Papercut, surely the best song they ever recorded, set the bar way, way up high. Even after fifteen years Chester Bennington's voice is still a shockingly potent instrument, a versatile set of pipes he no doubt has but for the first twenty minutes of the set he spends the majority of his time bent doubled and screaming like he's having his pancreas removed without anaesthetic. And what a wail it is. He could easily fit into a death metal outfit if the mood took him. With all the talk of latest album_ The Hunting Party_ returning to the band's heavy roots, and with a hyper-aggressive opening like this, you start to wonder if Linkin Park are to commit commercial suicide and bludgeon the casual, latter day fans they've collected into a noisy death.