Review / photos / setlist: Linkin Park experiments with new sounds at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa
I shuffled down the busy sidewalk, waiting for the Tampa police officer to give me the “you can cross now” wave. It was cold. Windy. And my camera gear just seemed heavier then usual.
As I walked through the parking lot, still damp from the recent rains, I heard Linkin Park audio from various areas of the large parking lots surrounding me. Linkin Park tailgating had begun.
The parking lot pre-party was just a hint of the 12,459 fans that would eventually make their way into the cozy St. Pete Times Forum. This was the sixth time Linkin Park has visited Tampa, and the first since the 2008 Projekt Revolution Tour. But their concert Saturday night was more then just the usual live show from a popular artist — it was a test stage for new sound from a group of artist many already love.
My mom once told me, when you find a recipe for a meal that makes your mouth water, don’t change it. Is this advice Linkin Park could have used when formulating the new CD, A Thousand Suns? I was curious as to how fans would respond to the new hip hop-influenced CD, released in September. When flirting with new sounds and change, it is one thing to produce it in a studio, and another to produce it live. How would the new sound be delivered to the attending fans, mixing Linkin Park’s rock with the newly formatted hip hop vocals and style?
The St. Pete Times Forum filled slowly, and I noticed some attendees waited for Linkin Park to come on stage before entering the venue. Unfortunately, those folks missed two decent live performances.
I was really impressed with the first opener, Does It Offend You, Yeah? A solid band from The United Kingdom, the music was fresh and just exploded from the start. I was way into the female bass guitarist, Chloe Duveaux. She just screamed Joan Jett from the ’80s. She was awesome! The five-piece band was a perfect fit to start off the night.
The second act, Pendulum, was a bit more electronic, and just didn’t have the edge that was needed for a second opener. I felt like I was listening to a club DJ. Maybe Pendulum was selected for the tour to blend the new Linkin Park style into the format of the show. Pendulum had a good stage show, and they delivered their message clearly. MC Ben Verse was all over the stage, doing his best to get the crowd into the show, but I just don’t think Linkin Park fans were 100 percent into this sound. Survey says: Meh! Take it or leave it.
Now for the meat and potatoes of the night. Lights out. Brief intermission, and gusto!
When Linkin Park took the stage, “loud” and “ecstatic” doesn’t do the vibe justice. You could tell that the crowd was overwhelmed with energy. Linkin Park bravely threw out the new sounds right from the start, opening with The Requiem from the new CD, following it up with Wretches and Kings. They crowd approved with a vocal applause, but you could sense a wanting for a recognizable older song.
They then got into some older tunes, like Papercut, which threw the crowd into hyperactive mode. All of the older songs got much more approval from the crowd. Not that the newer music wasn’t approved, it just wasn’t what dedicated fans were use to listening to from years past. When a new song was played, including Chester Bennington’s assisted drum routine, the crowed just watched, almost studying the format. Fans showed their approval for each song, but the new music had no catchy, sing-along vocals, and no insane “Oh my God!” screams, like the older music did.
The only flaw of the show was a keyboard dying during The Sun Will Set For You. During the brief pause, Bennington said, “You guys are so awesome you killed our keyboard.” Later, Bennington offered an awesome vocal solo toward the end of Breaking the Habit. His is clearly a voice American Idol wannabees would just pray to have.
The stage setup was great. The triangular stage allowed fans to get an awesome viewpoint of the show, and get an overall feeling of being closer to the band. Both Bennington and Mike Shinoda got personal with the crowd, and threw themselves over the barricades to give fans a chance to shake hands and get personal. Bennington even had to tell one fan, “Let go of my arm man,” and probably caused security to have a small heart attack. The encore was six songs, which was longer then I expected, ending the night with a interesting rendition of Bleed it Out.
The show was great, and I think the fans truly enjoyed the evening. I am not quite sure how the new sound will sit with most as a long-term change, but if album sales are any indication, they’re approving. Like many bands that have been around for a long period of time, Linkin Park will go through changes. It seems to be the norm with any musical act that reaches the 10-year mark.
The hardcore fans know that the heavier Linkin Park sound is what propelled them to the top, and at least when the live show comes around, they dedicate much of their performance to their roots. So tell mom, sometimes it’s not so bad to change the recipe for an old-fashioned meal. But you might make multiple servings to keep everyone happy.
-- Review / photos by Andrew Carlton, tbt*
LINKIN PARK SETLIST
1. The Requiem
2. Wretches and Kings
4. Given Up
5. New Divide
7. Empty Spaces
8. When They Come for Me
9. No More Sorrow
10. Jornada del Muerto
11. Waiting For The End
12. Wisdom, Justice, and Love
15. The Radiance
16. Breaking The Habit
17. Shadow Of The Day
19. One Step Closer
21. The Catalyst
22. The Messenger
23. In The End
24. What I’ve Done
25. Bleed It Out