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Mark
03-20-2003, 08:25 PM
This article was in a recent issue of Kerrang!. Thanks to Kat for posting this!

"About half way through tonight's short, somewhat sweaty set, a glance passes between Linkin Park's dual frontmen Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda. Nothing unusual in that, of course, except that with this particular glance it's obvious to every single person packed into the soaking, heaving mosh-pit what the pair are telepathically telling each other: "This is what it should always be like."

Thanks to the monolithic success of nu-metal - not to mention Linkin Park's position at the top of that particular tree (if you calculate it by the proportion of band hoodies you can count on an average Saturday in any shopping centre in the country) - It's been a long time since they saw the whites of their fans' eyes. In fact, there are those that would argue that it's exactly the kind of vital, formative, character-building tour experience Linking Park missed out on altogether. When their debut album "Hybrid Theory" launched them, newborn and still gasping but utterly marketable, directly into aircraft-hangar venues holding thousands of people merging into one indistinguishable mass of flesh, it robbed them of their chance to build slowly. They lost the opportunity that most successful bands look back on so fondly: 30 dates on the trot travelling in a clapped-out van, with no sleep, the gigs at small venues, a following materialising in front of your very eyes, making it worth all the discomfort. And with Linkin Park there has always been a sense of too much too fast. They've been wrapped in cotton wool so early on; playing enormodomes is their normal environment. And exactly how varied can a stadium by a band with one album to their name be?

But tonight is different. They'e playing a series of low-key gigs for their fan-base so that they can test the water with their new material. After all, selling a shed-load of records doesn't necessarily guarantee success next time round. Just ask Papa Roach.

Luckily for Linkin, and their bank managers, tonight only points in one direction, and it centainly isn't towards the lower reaches of the top 50. It's mayhem in here, the crowd made up of ecstatic competition winners and fanclub members. It is they who inspire the Shinoda/Bennington grin-off, and who make the gig so thrilling.

From the minute they launch into new track "Don't stay", the whole crowd is airbourne, braying their approval to each new song with the same enthusiasm they afford the familiar strains of "Papercut" and "Crawling". The new tracks reveal themselves to be exactly what you'd expect from Linkin Park's songs: Ultra-Slick, sample-driven pop monsters with crashing riffs and a lull for Mike's rapping before the vein-popping howl of Chester's singing takes over. "Faint", with it's swirling string samples and instant, soaring chorus, is already shaping up to be a sure-fire hit. Linkin Park are clearly of the "If it ain't broke..." school of thought. And whatever your opinion of them, the special nature of tonight, the pure joy the 1,500 people pressed against the barrier are exuding, is something only the biggest curmudgeon could deny.

Okay so when Chester opens his gob to announce his appreciation, is comes across as horribly Hollywood and sickly. "Nottingham" he sighs, overpronouncing the "Ham" as only Americans can. "The last time we were here, the energy we felt was intense, it's been burned into out memories. This is where we come to feed ourselves."

The fans scream politely before launching themselves back into the music. But when the last sight we get of Chester Bennington is the singer straining to join his audience, a security guard pulling him back by the legs of his jeans (Exposing the vast majority of the Bennington a**e in the process) while Shinoda slaps hands at the front, their excitement is obviously genuine. Soon it'll be back to the arenas, the faceless masses and the extreme importance of hiding behind laminates. For tonight, however, everyone was in it together."