The Growth, The Maturity, The Transitions.
I've got a down day today, as we await the Linkin Park show in Manchester's M.E.N. tomorrow, but having attended the first two shows of five on this U.K. leg it is clearly evident how much they've changed since their last visit.
Now as someone who's followed Linkin Park since the very beginning, I have seen Linkin Park perform 19 times (March 2003 x3, August 2003 x2, Nov 2003 x5, Mar 2004 x2, June 2004 x2, Feb 2005 x1, May 2007 x1, June 2007 x1, Jan 2008 x2 [to be 5]), and by the end of this leg it'll be my twenty second. This isn't said to boast, but to discuss that of those shows, the set list changed 15 times. The majority of those changes were TV shows (Top of the Pops, CD UK, Kerrang) or huge time gaps between sets (Feb 2005 was LPJZ).
Their current tour, as anyone who checks http://www.lplive.net/
or attends the shows, or talks on the forums would know, have been changing a whole lot, and its so bizarre to experience.Nottingham
At the Nottingham show, as per usual there were a good group of new fans lined up and waiting from 10am. I joined a few of our friends who lived nearby and had camped up early, ready to brace the cold. Time crawled by, but it soon became evident that there were going to be few, if any, attending these LPU Meet n Greets. These have been capped at 24 people, it seems, as both shows had that as the limit from those I'd spoken to [some had plus ones for parents].
Now, with this smaller collective, you'd hope that you'd get more time with them, but alas this was not the case.
The venue had a capacity of about 10,500 people around 6.30pm. It filled by the end of Biffy Clyro's set. The set list, is what I would describe
as the calmer of the two. It felt mellow, started mellow and the entire vibe was that much calmer. The audience only really picked up during the second encore of A Place For My Head and One Step Closer, but that's not the important. What's important is that the set itself is now so smoothly run and so professionally put together, so seamless and so flawless, that you can literally count the number of seconds in which music is not being played (not including heading off stage for an encore).
What I mean is, for all of 10-15 seconds, the band are silent. Other than that we have someone playing something constantly for an hour and thirty two minutes.
I don't know how easy that is to acknowledge, but it is amazing to see live. Mike performed using three electric guitars, an acoustic-electric, a banjo, a keyboard, and a skinless tamborine, whilst rapping and singing. Chester brought forth his mighty axe to finish Shadow Of The Day, Phoenix effortlessly flung his bass off stage after the set, Rob's routine drum solo kept Bleed It Out reach that wonderful length we all know and love, Joe... well Joe was at the show and Brad switched between numerous guitars and the keyboard for Hands Held High.
I've got to say, HHH is much better live than on the album. It clicks. It makes sense. The Amen doesn't feel cheesy. The performance gives it a life the record can't really contain... and all these changeovers are done without gaps. Songs don't end, they simply change key and continue.
The audience maintained their volume, but weren't really going crazy. There were no pits. There were no diving. I counted one crowd surfer in the entire show. One!?!Sheffield
was a whole different kettle of fish. An explosion-like sound roared its way into No More Sorrow and strongly followed with Don't Stay.
The energy started much higher than Nottingham and it just continued building. People were diving all over the place. The shit, had truely hit the fan and there was no way of realistically stopping it. They moved towards calmer waters in the direct centre of the set to bring in the middle-political-track (it seems 11 is the moment that this comes into play) and the great Phoenix returned to his microphone to join The Little Things Give You Away. Breaking free they launched through slowly building the energy once more, climaxing at Bleed It Out before treating us all to another beautiful rendition of Pushing Me Away at the piano. Truely awe-struck, the audience lifted lighters and stood in silence, barely murmouring the words and patiently, calmly listening to Chester soothingly coaxing the classical pianist out of Mike before charging the audience once more with One Step Closer and Faint.
Bodies hit the floor. Fans embraced and the 12,500 sold out audience drained away to all but a trickle within the hour. There were no complaints that I could hear.
Biffy Clyro's first show opening for Linkin Park really exposed a shy and somewhat unprepared band who simply played and left the stage. This nervousness is something they have obviously got over, as their second show was vastly superior. They had a larger presence, and put simply they were rocking the house with their tracks. They'd toned down on 'building' songs, which had more or less slowed their otherwise high tempo performance, and they'd fine tuned "Build Them Skyward" and "Fire" to get a great crowd response.