By: Fridae Mattas
Well my friends, here we are again! The show was Tuesday, February 8th 2011 and this time the artist was chart topping Grammy award winning American rock band Linkin Park, who made a stop at The Air Canada Centre on their ‘A Thousand Suns’ tour. The band is touring in support of their new record which dropped September 8th 2010 and debuted at #1 in both The United States and Canada. This band was a favorite of mine back when they first released ‘Hybrid Theory’ I loved their blend of NuMetal, Rap Rock, it was fresh and innovative compared to the poppicity that was dominating the charts at the time. I was excited when I found out I was approved to cover their set because it was my first time actually shooting a band at The Air Canada Centre. Everything went without a problem I was expecting the unexpected because you never know who is going to be moody that day.
The general admission floors were sold out but still a few empties in the leveled seating. It may have not been a sold out show but 11,500 people in attendance were more than enough to give the band nervous butterflies. I noticed there were many families, a few couples and a lot more males than females at this show. When I was at my seat the guys sitting behind me were too funny, they were screaming louder than any of the females around us. Even the girls I came across in the front row who freaked out and asked me to take a picture when they saw a stage tech hanging up the Canadian flag they gave the band, didn’t scream as loud as the guys! While we waited I was talking with a few of the photographers, they were all ready to snap pictures of lead singer Chester Bennington because that is what their editors wanted. I find that wrong on so many levels, all of the members in the band are talented and deserve to be photographed. When I am shooting a band or group, regardless of stature I always try my best to capture every single person performing on the stage. I don’t choose favorites; there is no special treatment, everyone is treated equally.
Edgefest 2008 at Downsview Park in Toronto was the last time I saw Linkin Park live, that was beyond chaotic and extremely moody and muddy. Thankfully, this time around it was smooth sailing, my lens was perfect and the stage was just a couple of inches taller than I, shaped kind of like a deformed V becoming my favorite immediately! I could freely wander to shoot different angles within the media pit making it easier to capture everyone in the band. What I love about Linkin Park is they always showcase all six members, you can see Drummer Rob Bourdon from all angles of the ACC, he was not shoved in the back as most Drummers are. Super beat dropper Turntablist Joe Hahn had his own riser as there were many different levels to climb and wander on. The other larries MC Mike Shinoda, Vocalist Chester Bennington, Lead Axemaster Brad Delson and Bassist Phoenix (Dave Farrell) had enough space to do whatever they wanted. First song in the set was ‘The Requiem’ off the new disc molded in with ‘Paper Cut’ first track off of their major label debut “Hybrid Theory”. As ‘The Requiem’ played, this light emulating the Sun rose up in front of what looked like large speakers used as the projection screen. On the “screen” there was a pyramid looking structure that morphed into a Parthenon style building followed by a clip of a man jibbering about fighting against the machine. Media was not allowed to start shooting until the whole band was on stage; I was ready, they had the same rules as the Edgefest set and I completely understand why. The atmosphere at this show was so much more relaxed and welcoming, the crowd was amazing but they were not as hype as the Three Days Grace crowd at the Direct Energy Centre last November and that was a limited ticket event of 3000.
Vocals were phenomenal very much improved, the screaming was fantastic I love his voice when in scream mode and his pitch was almost always perfect. There were a few cracks and shakes in a few tunes but I expected worse. Amazed at how powerful his voice still was after so much touring, the North American leg of the “A Thousand Suns” tour kicked off January 20th 2011 in Sunrise, Florida. A month into the tour and his vocals are still so crisp but unfortunately all of the touring has caught up with him; Linkin Park cancelled last nights show in Cincinnati, Ohio the 3rd of the week due to Chester being ill and under doctor’s orders to rest. I wish him a quick recovery, for more details about the remainder of the tour, refunds and Bennington’s condition check the bands website. Chester is everything a front man should be, even though he has co-captain Mike Shinoda also entertaining the crowd he still gives his all in every performance, you can hear it in his voice he feels the music with his heart and soul. Surprisingly he played a few instruments in this set, banging on drums during ‘When They Come For Me’ and playing the guitar near the end of “Iridescent” a tune from the new record. Linkin Park has undeniable chemistry, all five hundred of them! Jokes, they are only a sextet not that hard to remember! The new disc is stylistically different than their older material but a few of the tracks still have that original Linkin Park sound. They did well incorporating different songs from all of their albums in the 24 track performance, the set included the major heavy hitters like “Crawling”, “In The End”, “What I’ve Done”, “Breaking The Habit”, current single “Burning In The Skies” which is pretty poppy but sounds like a softer version of “New Divide”, you can always catch the full set-list at the end. During a few of the Ballads I was getting antsy, my A.D.D was kicking in, even though I had plenty of space at my seat to roam the songs were just boring me, especially the newer tracks just a tad redundant.
Guitarist Brad Delson has a laid back vibe about him, he just casually migrates around the stage with guitar in hand strumming away. In a recent interview I read he said “I don’t like to show off.” in regards to a question asked about his performance and not doing any guitar solos. Honestly mang, it’s not about showing off, its about the presentation to the people. Showing them how much you love playing your music and giving the people their monies worth so they will want to hit up another show and continue to buy your music. All people want to see a guitarist do at a live show is…Shred! There is no Axe Ballet going on here at this show, the front men fully take on the role of entertaining the crowd and do an excellent job at it. Drummer Rob whips those sticks quicker, he has gotten so much better in handling them and timing was perfect. I must say Bassist Dave Farrell whose birthday it was on the day of this show needs to lighten up, there was some serious worried tension on his face but I noticed as the ninety minute set progressed he started to loosen up just a little bit getting into the music.
After they played ‘Shadow Of The Day’ the last track in the first set of encores, Shinoda (whose birthday was on the 11th), jibbered about touring and how they all celebrated birthdays on the road most of the time. That is when Bennington took the lead telling the audience it was Dave’s birthday and asking them to help sing the birthday song wishing Bassist Dave ‘Phoenix’ Farrell a Happy Birthday. Chester suggested the crowd either could use his name “Dave” or newly created nickname “PhePhe” or “FiFi’ (however they spell it) when singing. The audience without hesitation followed his instructions and the whole ACC erupted in the Birthday song.
Mike Shinoda is the Rapper, Vocalist, Keyboardist, Guitarist and founding member of Linkin Park, once called ‘Hybrid Theory’. His flow has enhanced but still sounds a little delayed when he spits, if he was not in this band or had his side projects I don’t think he would have made it as a solo MC. But his Rapping skills are far superior to his actual singing voice, that needs extreme work. A few of the harmonies sounded off, I am pretty sure he was the cause. Shinoda when performing doesn’t fly around as quickly or as much as Bennington but he does float around with his own low key swagger, he also rocks out on the axe for a few of the tracks after all he is the rhythm guitarist. Last but not least a few words about the man behind the turntables Mr. Joe Hahn who was jamming out whilst scratching and dropping those beats with enthusiasm, he kind of reminded me of a young Mr. Miyagi having a party. If you have a chance to see this band live, take it and GO! They closed the set with “Bleed It Out’ blending into the first verse and chorus of one of my favorite tracks “A Place For My Head” before going back and finishing off ‘Bleed It Out’ followed by the thanking of the fans and how incredible and beautiful they were. Linkin Park is most definitely worth the live experience. They could have used some fire to spice things up but the lighting they did use was fantastic kind of a mini lazer show. As usual their magnetic appeal and distinct sound is intoxicating, every band needs to pay attention and step up their game because if you can’t deliver a show to remember you won’t last very long. I would see them again, LINKIN PARK is FRIDAE approved!
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TORONTO – SET LIST
01. The Requiem
02. Papercut (Mario Savio Intro)
03. Lying From You
04. Given Up (Extended Outro)
05. What I’ve Done
06. Empty Spaces
07. When They Come For Me
08. No More Sorrow
09. Jornada Del Muerto
10. Waiting For The End
11. Burning In The Skies
13. The Radiance
14. Breaking The Habit
16. The Catalyst
18. Faint (Extended Outro)
19. One Step Closer (Extended Outro)
20: Wisdom, Justice & Love
22: Shadow Of The Day — Happy Birthday to Phoenix after song
24. In The End
25. Bleed It Out/A Place For My Head