Linkin Park @ Barclaycard Arena, 6th July 2017

When Linkin Park first came to mass attention it was back in 2000 with Hybrid Theory, which at the time was challenging given it mixed rock with rap, and that with Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda sharing vocals, they offered something few other bands did. Their most recent album, One More Light, is currently being supported by a handful of dates, and tonight it was Birmingham.

Having only announced three cities, London, Brum and Manchester, there was always going to be a rush for tickets, however, the current closure of the Manchester Arena following the obscene terror attack there, means there’s no re-scheduled date at another venue in the North and so the UK leg of the tour is just two cities. For Brum it’s the bland Barclaycard Arena, and by the time I arrive there’s a sizable queue outside.

Tonight, is a little odd as there is no support, and I’ve struggled to think when I last saw any band who did not offer some support, even if it’s a dude in a cap playing records, or spinning the decks as the kids say, but tonight there’s nothing, and tickets give an on-stage time of half past eight, suggesting an early finish, and fellow gig-goers, there’s nothing wrong with that especially when you’ve a six a.m. alarm the next morning.

The arena bowl is standing as you’d expect, but oddly this is split into two with a large crowd barrier just behind the mixing desk, so maybe those at the front paid even more of a premium to be closer. The band are late to arrive, and finally at ten to nine the house-lights dim and the intro Fallout starts leading to the band entrance and straight into Talking to Myself. Now I’ll be honest, after that initial assault with the Hybrid Theory album, tonight’s entrance is very lame, and dare I say a bit pop? And this is how the show goes, from one extreme to another, from a heavy fast song to a slow ballad.

There is a mention of the atrocity at Manchester and this is admirable but it does then get over the top when each member of the audience is asked to turn to the person next to them and declare love, which given I’ve only just met my neighbour seems a little forward, and I’m not sure what her partner would make of this amorous gesture. Linkin Park then perform, what could be argued is a highlight of the show as Bennington goes into the front of the crowd, propped up by willing punters to sing One More Light, however, it is very much “boy-band” but the crowd love it. It must be said they do know how to interact with their crowd but then again, the lack of gigs could be seen to refute this.

The gig does get better towards the end of the set as the songs are cranked up In the End, Bleed It Out but they just seem to lack overall power, the drums are low, guitar riffs quiet, yet on record this isn’t the case so maybe it was just a poor sound mix? The lighting set-up was however, first rate, with a lighting gantry that moved constantly like a robot, coming down from the sky and gyrating, but a great lighting rig does not make a great show, and personally I’d sooner have a dirty bass and heavy guitar riff under a lightbulb than a ‘pop’ sound under lasers.

The encore opens with yet another acoustic number, Sharp Edges and at this point Bennington has stripped to the waist to show some fine body ink on his torso, stood under the lights at the end of the centre stage walkway, the crowd are in raptures.

This was not a cheap gig, with tickets close to £60, and for that to have no support and just over ninety minutes of the main act to me seems a little short-changed.

Merchandise is the standard fayre and prices, a t-shirt will relieve you of £25 upwards, and of course it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t comment on the other things happy to empty your wallet, a pint at £4.95 and car-park at £7.50. All this adds up, and if there are a couple of you, or heaven forbid children (who get no concessions on ticket prices) then this really could be an expensive night out.

I know I’m moaning now, so I’ll sum up; Linkin Park came and did what they do, and their loyal fanbase loved every minute of it. For me, I was left disappointed, the sound lacked power and overall I felt it didn’t give value for money, which in today’s economic climate isn’t great for fans.

 

Reviewer: Glenn Raybone

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