LIVE: Linkin Park @ The o2, London

By Christopher Lee

Californian rockers Linkin Park return to London for the first time in three years and as we’re about to find out, things have changed in that time. Whether or not that change is for the better will depend on how long you’ve been a fan of the band.

Linkin Park are a band who found huge success at the turn of the century with the release of legendary album ‘Hybrid Theory’ and follow up ‘Meteora’ however well documented changes in direction have caused the band to publicly state that the heavy sound which catapulted their fame is now a thing of the past, so we genuinely had no idea what to expect from the set.

Kicking the night off to huge applause as you’d expect the guys open with a slew of more recent tracks which get the half crowd up and moving but leave the other half somewhat confused as the mix of almost ballads and the dance beat of ‘The Catalyst’ seem almost disjointed. The heavier tones of ‘Wastelands’ start to get the crowd more pumped but it’s not until we’re treated to ‘One Step Closer’ that things really get going and the crowd unite as one to sing through a classic.

Moments like this are however unfortunately few and far between during the night as the set list is heavy on newer material which with Chester’s recent comments shouldn’t really surprise us but it’s still somewhat disappointing for those in the crowd who grew up listening to this timeless earlier records. Some of the newest tracks have an almost pop sound to them which are well received by some in the crowd but leave the rest wondering if this is actually still Linkin Park.

The surprise of the evening comes in the form of Stormzy who hits the stage for his guest verse on ‘Goodbye’ which sees the decibel levels sky rocket briefly but it doesn’t take long for us to return to the slower almost boyband sounding ‘One More Light’. What follows this can only be described as Marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it as the band precede to play through a piano version of their debut single from 2000 ‘Crawling’. The crowd seem to enjoy it but it’s a huge shame that we don’t get to hear the explosive original version.

Moving into the final third of the set and the guys finally start to pick up the pace with a number of heavier tracks including ‘In The End’ which sees a beautiful moment as the band fall silent during the first chorus and 20,000 people sing it perfectly in unison and Chester & Co follow this up with an explosive reminder of just how heavy they can be with ‘Faint’

Saving the best until last with a huge encore consisting of the strangely named ‘Heavy’ which really couldn’t be further from being heavy if it tried but more importantly epic renditions of ‘Numb’ and ‘Papercut’ the guys show that they can most definitely still turn it on when they want.

As the evening draws to a close we’re left feeling confused, of course bands change directions musically all the time and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Half of tonights crowd have absolutely loved the show while you can see the other half leaving wondering what could have been. Linking Parks success across a number of genres is to be commended but it does leave the show as a whole somewhat disjointed. However whether or not you’re a fan of the earlier music or the newer lighter stuff Linkin Park are still one of the biggest bands out there.