By Jason Kobely
Before their sold-out show in Las Vegas, Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson said if he had his way, the band’s new album One More Light would have launched three months ago. A veteran industry warrior who undoubtedly understands that the business of packaging and marketing new music takes time, Delson’s pure musician urges are showing these days. He boils it down — he and his bandmates of almost two decades are long past ready to get this collection of new songs in front of fans and start playing them live.
On the same day One More Light, Linkin Park’s seventh studio album, hit store shelves, Delson and company took the stage at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for Night 1 of X107.5 and CBS Radio’s SPF 2017 with an obvious, almost kinetic energy.
While many early reviews have characterized One More Light as Linkin Park’s fairly substantial turn toward more pop-tinged fare, Friday night’s special album release day performance seemed intent on delivering a squarely-landed fist of a message to the LP faithful: don’t for a second think the screaming guitars and explosive bombast of the Hybrid Theory heyday have softened these nu-metal gods one damn bit.
Over the first half of the band’s 24-song, 105-minute set, frontman Chester Bennington and crew made good on their pre-show promise, folding in a handful of One More Light’s more head-swaying, jingle-pop tracks, including the shimmery, pseudo-80s show opener “Talking to Myself,” the Pusha T/Stormzy collaboration “Good Goodbye” and the mellow electro-bouncy toe-tapper track “Battle Symphony.”
Yet even as the band unfurled a fair number of One More Light offerings mixed among Linkin Park staples like “Burn It Down,” “One Step Closer” and “Castle of Glass,” there was a constantly present crackle of Delson and Mike Shinoda’s barely contained guitar fury not-so-gently licking at the edges of even the fluffiest of new ballads.
You can feel it…the dam was giving way.
The surge abated for a moment as Bennington and keyboardist Joe Hahn featured on a quiet interlude, including the One More Light title track dedicated to rock icon Chris Cornell (“He’s watching every rock and roll show and loving it,” Bennington proclaims), an intimate, slowed-down showcase for Bennington’s nimble vocals on mega-hit “Crawling,” followed by the full band’s return on mid-tempo Minutes to Midnight track “Leave Out All the Rest.”
And then…the opening strains of Meteora monster “Somewhere I Belong” began palpably goosing the charging-up LP diehards. By the time the rumbling hit powered into its soaring chorus, the crowd was in full-on frenzy, literally shaking the Chelsea floor like an overinflated bounce house.
“It’s a killer venue, man…I don’t know if you can feel it, but the f—in’ place just goes, booyah, boom! It’s f—in’ crazy up here, dude…that’s…the ground!” Bennington exclaimed with a hugely appreciative grin.
While the fervor ratcheted down a notch during the more reflective “What I’ve Done,” Bennington’s pronouncement that “it’s trampoline time, motherf—ers” coupled with the familiar notes of smash “In the End” once again had The Chelsea itself swaying. With the audience in mass handling half the vocal duties on the crowd-pleasing anthem, the band skillfully brought the show into port, closing out the night with “Faint,” (including more audience participation in the form of lyrics from the Depeche Mode classic “Strange Love”), followed by a four-song encore wrapped by another ” banger “Bleed It Out.”
With only a quartet of warm-up dates under their belts before embarking on huge European and American legs of the One More Light tour later this month, Bennington smiled before the show when he said Las Vegas was catching the rejuvenated band at a good time.
All night long, Las Vegas fans were quick to show their agreement. They even proved they were ready for more at show’s end when Shinoda — the last man left on the Chelsea stage — held up a small sign warning that the band would be back in September for the official One More Light tour stop.
In response, happy fans offered up one last round of enthusiastic cheers to Shinoda’s promise. Despite this special show, Linkin Park lovers were clearly looking forward to their return to Sin City.
Talking to Myself
Burn It Down
One Step Closer
Castle of Glass
Lost in the Echo
Waiting for the End
Breaking the Habit
One More Light
Leave Out All the Rest
Somewhere I Belong
What I’ve Done
In the End
Bleed It Out