Tech-savvy Linkin Park electrifies John Labatt Centre

Big screens, big sound, complex set keep audience energized

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

While Saturday nights in February are usually best spent indoors, thousands of people braved the cold outside the John Labatt Centre Feb. 23 for a chance to see Linkin Park play songs that, despite heavy mainstream rotation, were worth seeing live.

Chiodos, of Davison, MI, had the intimidating role of opening first. The band was perched at the front of a massive stage that was obviously going to be put into better use by the following bands. Its songs are alternatively synth and guitar-driven while the vocals similarly alternate between operatic crescendos and demonic screams. Despite claiming to be hardcore/emo, Chiodo’s chugging, frantic instrumentals deserve a more flattering descriptor than “emo.”

Singer Craig Owens admitted he knew a lot of the people in the crowd wouldn’t recognize the band. This was obvious from the perfectly still sea of people on the floor. Chiodos still threw down the whole set, even if the crowd didn’t.

It started with three songs off of its new album Bone Palace Ballet, which had some cool breakdowns, but didn’t rouse the crowd.

The next song was “The Words ‘Best Friends’ Become Redefined” off All’s Well That Ends Well. Owens’ vocals were stellar on this older track and the audience continued to warm up as they went. Another highlight near the end of the set was a pretty, new song called “Lexington.”

Coheed & Cambria, on tour promoting its wordy new album Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV: Volume 2: No World For Tomorrow, were the second openers. It spread out a bit more across the stage than Chiodos, but still left a lot of it unused.

The set opened with two songs from the new album ¬" the title track and “Gunslingers and Gravemakers” " both of which sounded great and got the audience’s attention. After a number of older songs, the band played “Feathers” and “The Running Free,” both catchy singles off the new album. It closed with “Welcome Home,” a song featured on the video game Rock Band, dazzling the crowd with duel guitar solos and behind-the-head theatrics.

When the five massive rotating screens and remarkably intricate stage were finally ready, members of Linkin Park took to the stage one at a time to a crowd that had gone out of its mind. The packed JLC looked more like a skate park than a stage, complete with a fun-box and five stair set.

From the wireless microphones and guitars and Joe Hahn’s clustered DJ setup, to the aforementioned screens, which showed footage from Linkin Park’s videos and other images, it was clear the band embraced technology in conveying its music in live shows. In spite of this elaborate setup, Linkin Park was humble, making a point to thank and congratulate its necessarily massive road crew for its hard work.

The band played a good mix of songs from all of its albums, including its latest, Minutes to Midnight. But it was clear it was saving its best for last. The last five songs of the night read like a “greatest hits” album, made all the more thrilling by singer Chester Bennington’s spot-on vocals and Rob Bourdon’s show-stopping drum solo at the end of “Bleed It Out.”

Having created an interesting pop-friendly, nu-metal sound, Linkin Park could benefit from more diverse guitar sounds. The slow-burning, crunchy guitars remained more or less the same throughout the show, often relegated to background noise. They paled in comparison to the guitar work of the opening bands.

To Linkin Park’s credit, songs like “Numb” that have received borderline-tedious rotation on music stations were still infectious and the band kept fans energized for the whole set.

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