Live Review: Linkin Park — The Staples Center, Los Angeles
Thu, 24 Feb 2011 10:02:28
During the final song of Linkin Park's triumphant sold out show at The Staples Center last night, Mike Shinoda turned back time.
Smiling at the packed crowd midway through "Bleed It Out" from Minutes To Midnight, he exclaimed, "We'll take it back to The Roxy about ten years ago."
Suddenly the song morphed into "A Place For My Head" from Linkin Park's now classic debut, Hybrid Theory. The audience went absolutely berserk, and band closed out the show seamlessly sliding back into a bombastically brilliant "Bleed It Out."
This particular moment speaks volumes about Linkin Park. First of all, they've never forgotten where they came from. Secondly, the band has an inimitable ability to mix and match styles and sounds. They are still the kings of the hybrid, and they only get better at it with each album, song, and performance.
In essence, Linkin Park stand out as the ultimate modern rock band. On their latest album, A Thousand Suns, and on their current tour, Linkin Park have struck the perfect balance between U2's stadium-status presence and Radiohead's creative fearlessness. Their gig at The Staples Center further solidified them as one of the most important rock bands of all time. The show commenced ominously with a sample Mario Savio speaking, and then it snapped right into "Papercut" from Hybrid Theory.
During "Papercut," Brad Delson's guitar roared and raged from unforgettable sharp riffing into elegantly airy textures, while bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell perfectly powered through rumbling, raw rhythms, adding a distinct strength to the song. From up above, Joe Hahn's DJ wizardry cast a spell over the entire salvo, adding a diverse, divine soundscape to the battery of guitars and bass. Across from Hahn, Rob Bourdon pounded out mind-bending grooves that were as danceable as they were deadly. At the center of it all, Shinoda and Chester Bennington poured their souls into each lyric and scream, building a unique harmony. Linkin Park set the tone early on for a transcendent concert experience.
Following "Papercut," "Wretches and Kings" left this earth and shot the band into a creative stratosphere beyond all their peers. Grinding industrial sounds shook The Staples Center to its core as Bennington and Shinoda turned into something of a vocal hydra, impressively oscillating from a myriad of different vocal stylings within the space of one song. "Given Up" snapped from Delson's riff crunch into a punk-y sonic exorcism, as "New Divide" captivated via each aural detail from the images on the screen to Hahn's electronic spell.
Shinoda and Bennington were both born to command crowds of millions, and their power became especially palpable during "Faint." A speedy break beat blasted along in tandem with the synth swells up and down. Images of outer space and a face donning a heavy gasmask above earth adorned the giant concave screen behind the band, transfixing every mind in the building. The tribal drumming on "When They Come For Me" fueled a bouncey jam as Shinoda screamed, "Try to catch up motherfucker."
However, Linkin Park have left all their peers in the dust, especially when the song segued into a hauntingly gorgeous interlude of Bennington crooning, "When they come for me, I'll be gone."
After "No More Sorrow," Bennington laughed, "I knew you guys would be louder than New York." The fans were so loud that New York could most likely hear them, especially as everyone sang along to "Waiting ForThe End."
Bennington also gave a special dedication in the middle of the show. He smiled announcing, "I want to say hi to my son up there. He got to bring his friends to the show for the first time. I hope you're having fun! I love you buddy."
It was a warm intimate moment matched by the intense grace of "Numb" and "Breaking the Habit" from Meteora following. Once again bringing the audience back to Hybrid Theory, the band ripped through "Crawling" and "One Step Closer," giving both songs a heavier and simultaneously more heartfelt delivery.
After exiting the stage briefly, "The Catalyst" launched everything back out of this world, while Bennington's soulful rendition of the A Thousand Suns finale, "The Messenger," was utterly riveting. Delson's acoustic guitar locked in with Bennington's incredible vocals showing another side of Linkin Park and bringing everyone closer.
"Bleed It Out" did just that, showing Linkin Park still bleeding for every note and word like they did when they began.
Before Linkin Park, The Prodigy evoked the same unbridled industrial ecstasy that Ministry did during the Psalm 69 era. In fact, The Prodigy's set was dangerously powerful. "Firestarter" cackled with a dance-y darkness that felt like the soundtrack to hell's hottest night club, and "Run With The Wolves" should be licensed for any and all movie chase scenes from here on out. There was a demonic, devilish spark to The Prodigy's heavy electro symphony on "Invaders Must Die." Fist-pumping and screaming commenced appropriately during the death-defying grooves of "Smack My Bitch Up."
Ultimately, every era of Linkin Park is crucial for music and pop culture, and their importance only rises with each new Sun.
Were you there?
Check out our review of the band's "A Thousand Suns: Puerta de Alcalá (Live) – EP " here!
Read our exclusive review of "A Thousand Suns" here!
Pick up the EP on iTunes here!
Watch video interviews with frontman Chester Bennington here and here!
Check out ARTISTdirect.com News Editor Amy Sciarretto's review of the band's show at Madison Square Garden here!