In my last year of school, the year 2000, a guy who fixed my computer said, “You have to listen to this new band, Linkin Park. They’re amazing.”
He had a stylised Slipknot 'S' tattoo on his lower leg. A few days later, he gave me the Linkin Park album Hybrid Theory. I put it on, and I loved it.
“This is nu-metal,” I remember thinking, “But I really like it.”
Now, 13 years later, I’m at a Linkin Park show. It isn’t my first, but this is the first time Corey Taylor of Slipknot fame opened for them with his other band, Stone Sour. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but it feels like it’s all come full circle.
I met Corey Taylor from Stone Sour backstage before the show. I told him I’d met loads of people outside who were there for them, and not Linkin Park.
“Oh!” he said, genuinely taken aback. “That’s nice, but I just got to thank Linkin Park for taking us out here. We wouldn’t be here without them.”
Taylor is a gracious frontman. It’s surprising, really, as he fronts that other behemoth of a band, Slipknot, under the guise of a mask. He started Stone Sour in 1992, before Slipknot even existed. He’s taken a few breaks, but he’s glad his original band is back.
On stage, he runs and he sprints with his hair brushed straight back. He’s short but powerful and comes equipped with one of the best voices in rock. He uses it at Vector Arena with full force, opening with ‘Gone Sovereign’.
The crowd takes a while to warm, but by ‘Made of Scars’ – a big hit for these lads – the crowd is getting it. Corey talks between each song, clearly loving it. He tells us they’ll be back soon.
Forty-five minute isn’t enough, even if they give us a new song “before f**king Australia gets it”. The song is ‘Do Me A Favor’.
There’s a 40-minute break before Linkin Park take to the stage with ‘Faint’... the crowd is far from fainting however, moving in a giant pack. Vector is not at its biggest configuration, but it’s packed with moving bodies. The band embraces plenty of Hybrid Theory – ‘Papercut’ is there, so is ‘Somewhere I Belong’.
Something struck me while listening to ‘Crawl’. I remember reading some early reviews of Hybrid Theory back in 2000 and one of them described Linkin Park as having “Rosy pop pink painted on their nine inch nails.”
Years later, Mike Shinoda scored a film called The Raid. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor tweeted about it, saying: “If you're in the mood for an ACTION film, immediately go see The Raid. God DAMN”. Another case of things coming full circle.
There’s a giant screen behind the band, projecting various images of dogs and skulls and band videos. It felt a bit like the visuals Tool would display, but sort of Tool-lite. They formed a trippy backdrop as Mike rapped and Chester screamed.
Chester’s the frontman, but Mike stole the show. He was grinning the whole time, and his skills on guitars and keys and vocals reminded everyone of why Jay-Z teamed up with the band years ago: Not a perfect project, but a good idea.
They touch on their best album, 1000 Suns – it’s a bit of prog-rock concept album madness, and it’s Linkin Park at their best. They do a startling rendition of ‘The Catalyst’ and it gets the biggest crowd sing-along of the night.
Towards the end, they play ‘In The End’. It’s a huge number, and a reminder of how solid Hybrid Theory was and is. Mike has run into the crowd – he’s standing and singing surrounded on all sides by hundreds, nay, thousands of people. He’s beaming as he does his thing. Chester is on the highest point on the stage, also beaming.
When it’s all over, they and the rest of the band – Rob, Brad, Dave and Joe – stay up there for what seems like forever, thanking the crowd. Chester and Mike embrace in front of the New Zealand flag.
It’s been a good night for them and a good night for us.