By Scott T. Sterling
Linkin Park and a cavalcade of special guests delivered a powerful tribute to Chester Bennington with an inspired celebration of both the singer’s life and the first steps into the band’s next evolution.
The Oct. 27 concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles was a showcase for the Linkin Park’s musical breadth that extends well beyond the emo metal-rap sound they helped pioneer and in which they’ve often been pigeonholed.
“I feel like we’re giving you guys musical whiplash,” frontman Mike Shinoda joked at one point in the show, but it was an apt observation.
The finely tuned and inspired show reflected the visionary spirit of Linkin Park, revealing the many musical risks the band has taken throughout its storied career.
The endless and eclectic stream of special guests throughout the show revealed just how far the music of Linkin Park has traveled, through myriad genres and around the world.
The concert also had a contextual feel, with appearances from Korn’s Jonathan Davis, Gavin Rossdale of Bush, Steve Aoki, Bring me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes and Julia Michaels showing how Linkin Park has transcended generations of music.
Thick with video interludes and tributes, the three-hour marathon concert was also a celebration of the band’s wildly dedicated fans, who often took over lead vocals during songs and broke into chants of “Chester” throughout the night.
“Tonight is about remembering our friend and his powerful voice and his generous spirit, and how he inspired all of us,” Shinoda said over the show’s opening video montage.
The concert moved through eras and across albums, including an early suite of songs from the band’s most recent album, One More Light.
Alanis Morissette (back by the Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont of No Doubt and Dreamcar) made a cameo appearance for Living Things track, “Castle of Glass,” also sharing a new original song, “Rest.” She dedicated the passionate piano ballad to Bennington’s memory, and captivated the crowd with her emotive performance.
Shinoda paused at the middle of the show to share his immediate response to hearing of Bennington’s suicide, and the range of emotions that came with the news.
It was an introduction to new song, “Looking for an Answer,” written just eight days after the singer’s suicide. He revealed that the band would be sharing the process of the song’s evolution from the minimal piano concert version to a full-fledged song via Instagram .
The show soon veered towards the band’s earliest days, with Shinoda welcoming DJ/producer Zedd onstage to play drums and Bring Me the Horizon vocalist Oli Sykes to lead the band through a spirited take on Hybrid Theory single “Crawling.”
Blink-182 commandeered the stage to perform a pair of the band’s fan favorites, “I Miss You” and “What I’ve Done.”
Bennington’s wife, Talinda, addressed the crowd, thanking friends, family and fans around the world watching the concert via live stream.
An onstage video towards the end of the night of Bennington reacting to the Ariana Grande tragedy in Manchester captured the singer’s passionate and intimate connection with his audience, and why Linkin Park and its fans are still grappling with his loss.
With the entire cast of artists taking the stage for a final bow, the triumphant night ended on a considerable high, setting the stage for new beginnings as Linkin Park begins to reinvent itself for their future.