Linkin Park review – the guitars are back, and they’re loud

Manchester Arena
After a flirtation with experimental electronica, the US rockers have returned to more familiar ground

In 2011, Linkin Park announced that they were “destroying and rebuilding the band” – abandoning rap and metal in favour of experimental electronica with a political edge. However, this unsettled sections of the group’s fanbase, which bought Hybrid Theory, their 2000 nu-metal debut album, in the multimillions. So the guitars are back, and they’re loud. Three years ago, frontman Chester Bennington said he no longer wanted to scream; now, his signature guttural wail is being put through an echo system, so it continues even after the merely mortal stops.

There’s so much screaming that Bennington starts to risk self-parody, although the tattooed, all-skin-and-muscle singer remains compelling. Visibly limbering up sidestage before the show, he is the epitome of pent-up adrenaline, which erupts when he runs on. Were he any more intimate with the front rows, there would be calls to the police. It’s something of a shock when, towards the end of Wastelands, Bennington suddenly sings so sweetly that he’d surely pass an audition for One Direction.

In the second half, the band make good – for a while – on that old promise to tear up the plans. On The Radiance, Oppenheimer’s famous “I am become death” speech is mixed with tribal acid house and Europop keyboards. Waiting for the End is beautifully ethereal, while Burn It Down might even outdo recent Depeche Mode for electro-bounce. The combination of Bennington’s most naked vocals and cannon-fire drums on Leave Out All the Rest is particularly affecting, then it’s back to Mike Shinoda’s hurtling rapping and huge rock anthems. The tireless reinvention of Linkin Park’s absorbing 2010 performance is absent, but this is clearly an attempt to reunify their fanbase: with no seat left unsold and thousands of voices singing every word, it certainly does so.

At the 02 Arena, London, on 24 November. Box office: 0844-856 0202.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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