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Linkin Park at the MEN Arena
updated 24/11/03
Linkin Park Rock crowds these days are very similar to the pop crowd, except with spikier hair and baggier pants. As I looked around the MEN Arena, packed, quite literally, to the rafters, it amazed me the number of families that had made the journey.
review: Alex Davies venue: MEN Arena
date: Fri 21 Nov rating: 10/10
Linkin Park

Waist high children running around screaming, a mother putting in her three year old son's ear plugs directly in front of me. I half expected her to get out a cooler bag and serve out sandwiches to her siblings. What has rock music come to?!

The first support were Bolton's own Kinesis. Putting in a great show they filled the arena with their politi-punk anthems to almost no response from the crowd. A shame, as the local lads packed in high energy and powerful music.

They were followed by Lostprophets. Mixing new material from their forthcoming album with older crowd favourites, the Prophets were a disappointment. Lead vocalist Ian Watkins seemingly trying to cram as many obscenities into their set as humanly possible. Their new material, shying away from their nu-metal past, focuses on the hip genre of the day; post-hardcore. The songs all sounded very similar, all leading to the final breakdown, and their set lacked originality.

And onto the main show. Many things have been said about Linkin Park's live capabilities, ranging from bad to very bad. However, from the moment they came on, until the second they left the stage, the entire arena was going crazy for them, and justifiably so. The band were totally on form, blasting out song after song, lead singer Chester Bennington's vocal range incredible to behold.

With the stage set-up of two side platforms on either side of the stage, the mammoth arena became intimate for a few moments every few songs for the lucky people in the seats at the side, with Bennington singing to you from less than a metre away in my case.

They played a range of songs from both hugely successful albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, from the adrenaline surge of Points Of Authority to an anthemic Breaking The Habit, with co-vocalist Mike Shinoda accompanying Bennington on the keyboards. Fans were even treated to a version of the X-Ecutioners hit It's Goin' Down which featured Shinoda. Highlight of the evening for me was recent single Numb, with Bennington's vocals sending a shiver down many a spine with this moving rendition.

As no arena gig would be complete without it, as they came back for an encore, we had the 'lighter alert', for a version of b-side My December. The band ended on a fearsome version of mosh-pit favourite One Step Closer and with the last scream, they were off.

Linkin Park brought a closeness to the arena I hadn't witnessed before, interacting with fans throughout the entire set, and making a lot of people feel very special. Their music was incredible, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Phoenix and drummer Rob Bourdon creating a fantastic backdrop for Bennington and Shinoda to work with. Strangely, DJ Mr Hahn chose to remain in a Hulk mask for the entire gig.

With a set full of the crowd favourites and not one bad song, I think even the Mums will have left the arena humming Crawling, as their sons begged them to buy them a hilariously overpriced t-shirt.

Reviewee............. Alex Davies from BBC manchester as he witnessed the manchester sellout gig.