There were ramps and lights and pyrotechnics and real flames of fire. But even if you stripped all those elements away, you’d still have been left with something else from Wednesday night’s Linkin Park show – the simple connection between band and fan.
The alt-rock six-piece played a rainy Wednesday night at Jones Beach, as part of the Honda Civic Tour, on the back of their fifth album release, Living Things. And while they played five songs off that record – including the single Burn It Down, they also powered their way through their hits – knocking them out one punch after the other, hardly stopping for breath.
Now let me show ya
Exactly how the breaking point sounds
From the moment Joe Hahn, the man in charge of the beats, walked on stage and switched on the turntables in front of him, it was like he was the group’s race marshall, waving his flag to signal the rest of the band to go – and not stop until 22 songs later.
From Papercut to Somewhere I Belong to Points of Authority to Breaking the Habit and The Catalyst – the band cut through it all, calling to mind and body the feeling of chanting those lyrics, those words as a teenager – silently or not – to those exacerbating youthful angst. In Chester Bennington’s twisting screams and Mike Shinoda’s “hand grenade pins in every line”, I felt an excising of anger and frustration I thought was long gone. As the sweat poured from Bennington’s face, like someone left a hosepipe running over his head, he pushed out those words…”shut up when I’m talking to you!”
The stage set-up and playlist gave the group plenty of space to stretch out – lifting Hahn up on a podium, giving Bennington the room he needed to jump around and pull those ab-crunching moves, a ramp for Shinoda’s keyboards and guitars to fill out the sound already provided by the powerhouse of Brad Delson on guitar and Phoenix on bass, and of course a spot for Rob Bourdon to keep time, as an ever watchful presence on the right.
There was also a series of cameras too, capturing the onstage action and beaming it onto screens behind, which helped bring the audience closer in on all the action on stage. They captured some of the interplay between Shinoda and Bennington and the crowd, which up close, you could see happen in each musician’s eyes – Bennington’s constantly darting around, scanning the audience as he bounced from one side to the next, reaching down to touch his sweaty hands to those belonging to someone in the audience; while Shinoda’s had a kind of sweet smirk in them – as if he knew he already won everyone over from the second he set foot on stage. He gave the show a moment of undisturbed beauty, when he sat down for an acoustic Leave Out All the Rest,, and then led the rest of the band in the chorus of Iridescent.
There was the raw energy that comes from a song catalogue of pain and disappointment, and every scowl seemed to feel like Bennington was reliving it all over again, the emotion taking hold of his whole body. But there was also a sense of relief that comes from playing songs that were hits from the past decade – the distance has created a time and space that makes it easier to let go.
And, a lightheartedness in amongst it all too. From the holes in guitarist Brad Delson’s t-shirt, to the calm smile on Phoenix’s face. Bennington too, would come out of his rapture, at one stage bending down to grab the hand of a young fan who looked about ten years old, and waving at a guy in a wheelchair, giving him a fist in the air of his own. After the last chord had been strummed, all the band members came down to touch the hands of their fans – Shinoda even giving out water and energy drinks.
Throughout the concert there was very little talking – save for a few “how are you doing?” and “having fun out there?” cries from Shinoda, yet when the rapper/guitarist did speak, he talked about Music for Relief, and the group’s efforts to look after the planet. It was another touching moment of connection, as the audience cheered Linkin Park on.