Linkin Park

By Jake Ebdale

Artist:  Linkin Park with Stone Sour

Date / Venue:   - Thursday 21st February, Vector Arena, Auckland

At long last, Linkin Park return to our shores for a triumphant show at Auckland's Vector Arena, with support from Stone Sour.

Stone Sour kicked the night off with a powerful display of brutality and melody. Corey Taylor, also ofSlipknot, has evolved into a charismatic front man, and the songs 'Say You'll Haunt Me', 'Do Me a Favour' and the beautiful ballad 'Bother' warmed the crowd up nicely. Playing for around 45 minutes, they were a strong opener and a hard act to follow.

It's been over five years since Linkin Park last showcased their unbridled angst to the great Kiwi unwashed. Their first two albums were standouts in nu-metal, a genre so constricting that it ruined bands who dared to step outside of it (see: Limp Bizkit, Korn). Hybrid Theory sold 24 million copies worldwide for Christ's sake. Many would struggle to break out of a debut so successful, but a lot has changed since their 2007 visit, mostly for the better. They've released two albums, A Thousand Suns and Living Things, which have downplayed their affinity for nu-metal and instead opted for anthemic pop singles, hip hop, and industrial breakdowns (they still scream a bit too). So for this show, it was great to see LP giving a nod to their unshakeable past while incorporating the present so effortlessly.

Oldies 'Faint' and 'Papercut' worked amazingly as openers, the crowd being one of the loudest I've heard at Vector. Chester Bennington has an energetic, light hearted stage presence, and his voice was amazingly good - both singing and screaming, especially on 'Somewhere I Belong'. The same goes for Mike Shinoda,clearly the band's leader and catalyst for change.

 After a strong start, it was interesting to see how the newer songs would fit in - as it turns out, they were surprisingly effective. The punchy 'Victimized' sounds like vintage Nine Inch Nails with an MC, whilst 'Lies Greed and Misery' is an affirming bit of major key goodness. Their show production has improved markedly, with a number of ghostly visuals permeating the big screens, pulsating in time to the beat. An example was'Castle of Glass', a mediocre track itself, but really buoyed by its accompanying optical effects. 2010's 'The Catalyst' was a faux techno rave up, an anomaly in the set, but an enjoyable one.

Then the power of Linkin Park hit the arena like wildfire - 'Numb', 'What I've Done' and set highlight 'One Step Closer', one after the other, sent electricity through the masses - moshing, dancing, singing and screaming to one another. At that very moment, this band was unstoppable. An encore including 'In the End' was an added bonus.

This show was a great testament to the appeal of Linkin Park and how they've grown from shouting kids to serious, career oriented artists. Sure, a portion of the crowd weren't feeling the new direction, but that portion also wore Limp Bizkit and Korn shirts. An aural and visual experience, Linkin Park put on a solid show that made me a fan, something I wasn't before seeing them. I'm sure this thing will live on for much longer.