Linkin Park (Download Festival, 14/06/14)

(Photo by Andrew Whitton)

Although Fall Out Boy were second on the bill tonight, a mass singalong of ‘In The End’, before Wentz and the gang take to the stage, shows who everybody is really here for.

The Californian nu-metallers enter to footage of rehearsals. Frontman Chester Bennington says that after digging up tracks of old, that they “are just coming back naturally”. It must be a relief, considering how they are the twelve tracks that will open tonight’s set.

You see, today marks debut album Hybrid Theory’s thirteen-year-seven-month-and-twenty-one-day anniversary – perhaps not the most remarkable sounding day to give it its one and only play through, start-to-finish. Still, they are here to prove that any day of any year, is the right time to listen to one of the most important rock albums of the 21st Century.

Tonight is a nod back to a day when Bennington was at his angriest, and he shows off that his voice hasn’t lost a splinter of its gravelly growl, in a seriously hacked off sounding ‘By Myself’, and classic single ‘Crawling’, which also featuring Bennington almost at his most sensuous. The latter is an unusual moment, as it becomes apparent that just five songs in, four singles have already been played – seemingly beginning the show with what would make a perfect encore.

It is clearly a risk digging up ye olde tracks of yester-decade at a festival, potentially comprised of a crowd unaware of anything but singles, but everybody screams along to every word. It’s a strange collision, as it’s easy to imagine that Linkin Park are under heavy pressure to make this unique show, absolutely perfect, yet they are casually having the time of their lives. For evidence, look no further than Mike Shinoda’s ridiculous-looking crimson wig, to replicate his hair circa 2000.

Photo by Derek Bremner
Photo by Derek Bremner

No matter just how elusive some tracks are (such as ‘Forgotten’ which received its first performance in twelve years), the audience is hooked. So when album closer ‘Pushing Me Away’ ends, Linkin Park fulfil Bennington’s earlier promise from the opening tape: “The great thing about a 36-minute album is that we have time to play hits…” Ironically, there was a noticeable dive in enthusiasm in the audience when recent singles emerged during Download Festival 2014 Show, Act Two: The (Other) Greatest Hits.

The second half is more of a medley of the majority of their hits, dropping verses, and in disappointing compensation due to the vintage album tracks earlier, the Meteora era was ignored. In its place are three new tracks from upcoming album The Hunting Party, which despite being entirely new to everybody, the nostalgic entrance to tonight’s sense, means that everybody has already been well and truly sucked in, whether being able to scream along, or not.

The only truly awkward moment of tonight’s set is Shinoda’s praise of Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes, who had told him that Linkin Park had been a huge inspiration to them. Cheers seem slightly reluctant, as Sykes had spent 90% of their set, calling the audience “pathetic cunts”.

Tonight was an incredible blast from the past, and was about as heart-warming as something so furious can be.

8/10

 

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