Admittedly, it had been awhile since I’ve listened to Linkin Park. I definitely liked their older stuff from the albums Hybrid Theory and Meteora but the last time I’d heard their music was on A Thousand Suns and it was…different. And not what I expected.
But I’m always up for photographing a show and when the opportunity came to shoot Linkin Park on the first night of their tour for their new album Living Things this past Saturday at Jiffy Lube Live I thought I’d give them a chance.
MUTEMATH was the opening band, a band that I had known nothing about. Frontman Paul Meany was excellent and I found myself tapping my foot to the beat of their music while snapping photos. A mix of jazz, rock, blues and electronic music they displayed excellent musicianship during their hour-long set. Meany was definitely the highlight of the set as he bounced back and forth between a piano and electronic keyboard between songs. However, their songs started to sound the same after awhile, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they were a great band to open up the night.
During the break before Linkin Park took the stage, I took a look around Jiffy Lube Live and the place was pretty packed. Apparently it wasn’t sold out but I don’t see how that was true, seeing as the general admission area behind me was packed with people pressing up against the barricade and I couldn’t see any vacant spots in the seating area. There was definitely a buzz amongst the crowd and several times there were “Link-in Park, Link-in Park” chants.
Finally after a bit of a delay, they came out on stage to the theme song from “Game of Thrones” to a huge ovation and launched into the hip-hop inspired “With You,” off their first album Hybrid Theory. To me, it’s always a good sign when the crowd sings along with the chorus to one of the first songs of the night and that’s exactly what went down here. As a matter of fact, it seems like the crowd sang along for a lot of the night.
“Faint” was the next song and the crowd roared again during the familiar opening. I could hear several people just beyond the barricade trying to keep up with Mike Shinoda’s high speed rap. But for the night, nothing was as thrilling as seeing Chester Bennington lean over the stage and scream into the mic, a long howl which seemingly lasted forever. Getting to snap photos at a rapid pace of that moment was awesome.
Bennington might be best known for his screams but I was constantly impressed by him through the whole show due to his versatility. His vocals sounded great on slower more melodic songs such as “Waiting For The End” and especially on the ballad “Leave Out All The Rest.” He also briefly played guitar for “Iridescent” and pounded out beats on a pair of drums with during “Empty Spaces” along with guitarist Brad Delson and drummer Rob Bourdon while Shinoda rapped. Having three sets of drums on stage was one of the highlights of the show for me, it showed off the bands flexibility and overall talent level.
And that’s what I really took away from the whole evening, this is a band that has grown and matured over the years. I didn’t give A Thousand Suns much of a chance because it was a departure from the Linkin Park that I knew and that I liked. That angry hard rock/metal band had experimented with different sounds and styles on that album and their newest release, Living Things and it wasn’t what I had wanted or expected. But Saturday night showed me that this band can still show its teeth when they need to, but isn’t afraid to take risks in exploring new territories.
Other highlights: The last song before the set was “Bleed It Out” which morphed into the band playing “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. The aforementioned ballad medley of “Leave Out All The Rest/Shadow Of The Day/Iridescent.” The encore consisting of “What I’ve Done” and “One Step Closer.” The debut of “Victimized” off the new album turning into a medley of “Qwerty,” “Lying From You” and “Papercut.”
Game of Thrones Intro
Victimized/Qwerty/Lying From You/Papercut
Somewhere I Belong
In My Remains
When They Come For Me
Waiting For The End
Breaking The Habit
Leave Out All The Rest/Shadow Of The Day/Iridescent
Burn It Down
In The End
Bleed It Out/Sabotage
Lost In The Echo
What I’ve Done
One Step Closer