An event not to be missed, Triple M’s Brendan Annakin was there for the Linkin Park And Friends – Celebrate Life In Honour Of Chester Bennington concert this weekend, having exclusive chats to the band after the emotional event.
Listen to the interview here
As the warm Californian sun dips behind LA’s famous Hollywood Bowl, there’s an overwhelming sense that everyone packed into the venue wishes they were anywhere but. Of course, the entire sold out crowd is at fever pitch to see their hometown heroes Linkin Park triumphantly return to the stage after a three month hiatus, it’s just this time, things are irreversibly different.
On July 20th, 2017, Linkin Park’s inimitable front man Chester Bennington took his own life. From denial to disbelief, the news spread throughout the world’s music community and they, along with the band’s fans, mourned. They still do. But tonight, through the grief and the sorrow, there’s a life to be celebrated.
Following a heartfelt montage of the band paying their respects to Chester, the remaining members of Linkin Park sweep into a medley of some of their more anthemic, euphoric cuts from 2010’s A Thousand Suns.
The most moving moment of the night occurs just two songs later as a solitary spotlight beams down over centre stage onto an unmanned microphone stand for fan favourite Numb. The 17,500 strong crowd are tasked with yelling back every word of the song to the band and do so with gusto, setting a standard they don’t intend to break for the remainder of the night.
Yellowcard’s Ryan Key is the first billed to fill Bennington’s empty shoes on Shadow of the Day which skips seamlessly into an unexpected cover of U2’s With or Without You, the song acting as a precursor to a star-studded tribute video that would air later in the night featuring Metallica and Paul McCartney alongside the Irish rockers.
It’s the unbilled guests however that really set the tone for the night. A surprise cameo from Bush’s Gavin Rossdale on Leave Out All The Rest gets the crowd up and about and mouths are left agape as Canadian songstress Alanis Morissette saunters out to join the band for Castle of Glass.
A visibly emotional Mike Shinoda highlights the importance of current single and title track from their latest record, One More Light, before launching into it. A song lyrically focussed on losing a friend, the multi-instrumentalist and primary songwriter imbues each word with a personal angst felt by the thousands watching on in the venue and the millions online. Surprisingly, it’s followed by a brand new song inspired by Chester’s death that hints the band plan to soldier on.
The amphitheatre’s decibel meter is truly tested as this century’s highest ever selling debut album Hybrid Theory gets a good workout. Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes makes the strongest claim yet for officially replacing Bennington, with a near perfect and visceral rendition of Crawling. Papercut, One Step Closer and A Place For My Head all get the star treatment too, with members from Machine Gun Kelly, Korn and A Day To Remember solidly guesting respectively.
Blink-182’s current incarnation never fail to entertain and tonight is no exception. A sombre version of original I Miss You is followed by an electrifying joint rendition of Linkin Park’s What I’ve Done with Travis Barker once again proving why he’s the gold standard of drummers.
Shivers are sent up collective spines as Bennington’s vocal track from their 2014 gig at the Hollywood Bowl is used as the band dive into New Divide. Accompanying footage from the gig is played in conjunction which offers the brief illusion of his presence. A frantic Meteora favourite Faint soon follows and turns out to be the penultimate song of the evening, as the cavalcade of guests that have starred throughout the night jump back on stage to help the band out with the genre-defying Bleed It Out.
As the crowd clears and the lights go up, emotions are varied. Laughs can be heard, cries can be seen and a selection of the band’s back catalogue are sung simultaneously with fervour by strangers arm in arm. One thing is for certain though, tonight won’t be forgotten in a hurry and neither will Chester Bennington’s legacy.