Live Reviews, Metal / Hard Rock — August 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

LIVE REVIEW: Linkin Park in Hong Kong

Linkin Park

© Warner Music Hong Kong/Live Nation Asia

August 15th, 2013
Asia-World Arena, Hong Kong
Reviewed by: Scott Murphy

Linkin Park are the Backstreet Boys of metal. They’re the McDonalds of rebellion. Step up to the arena, in this case Hong Kong’s Asia-World Arena, and get your dose of carefully controlled chaos.

For the 10,000 strong mix of expats and fervent locals in the audience, their enthusiasm was such that they greeted every song with an explosion of applause. Every defiant obscenity-filled catch phrase that Chester Bennington screamed was shouted back at him with the kind of fervor that a military dictator would have appreciated.

Nearly two years to the day since their last appearance in the city, the band has radically exchanged their set list. Gone are the soundscapes and Martin Luther King speeches that made their last album A Thousand Suns worthy of repeat listens. In its place were several songs from their fifth release Living Things, including show opener “Tinfoil”, a synth-rap-driven crowd-pleaser lead by Mike Shinoda.

There’s no denying that the six member group play everything with proficiency, professionalism and the ability to call up any emotion that’s needed for a song. If it’s earlier material like breakthroughs “Papercut” or “One Step Closer”, Shinoda and Bennington have the good rap, bad scream down to a T. Guitarist Brad Delson plays with a maximum of power chords and a minimum of solos. Turntablist Joe Hahn knows exactly what buttons to trigger on his computerized bank of sounds.

The good news is that fans get exactly what they want, only louder. The bad news is that it reduces the possibility of a real emotional rock’n’roll experience to nothing.

By the hour and twenty mark, the group had already ripped through nineteen songs, during which Delson casually sauntered back and forth on the two-tiered open stage. Bennington had screamed with multi-tracked venom and Shinoda and drummer Rob Bourdon showcased why they’ve become the group’s backbone.

In the audience, local Hong Kong girls recorded the entire show from the perspective of their iPads, fourteen-year-old boys rapped along to Shinoda’s defiant raps and CBC transplants bounced around as if they were mental patients who had escaped the confines of their flats for the first time.

Onstage, the group elicited cheers by announcing that a fan summit had been held in Hong Kong for the first time, before easing into a surprising amount of hits: the dance sounds of “The Catalyst” here and the pop-metal confection “What I’ve Done” there.

If you hadn’t seen many shows and Linkin Park was your chance to release pent up frustrations, then the choreographed gimmick-free rage went down like a harder boy band or a quarter pounder with cheese.

But if your idea of a great show is unpredictability, a wild guitar solo, a mistake or two and genuine danger, than this all wouldn’t have elicited more than bemused eye-rolling.

Most of the crowd was in the first category and Linkin Park catered to them with extra toppings.