There a select few bands on this planet today whose fanbase is as dedicated as that of Linkin Park’s. The Californian sextet, who have been around since their inception in 1996 under the name Xero, have made a massive name for themselves through their eclectic mix of hard rock, rap and electronic music. It’s built them a large fanbase, known as Linkin Park Underground, and elevated them to festival headliners the world over. Earlier this year they released brand new album The Hunting Party, with the European leg of its accompanying world tour stopping off at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome. Joined by Mesa-quintet Of Mice & Men, the two bands played to a sold out crowd of 17,000 people.
With fans queuing in the cold and rain for up to eight hours, the sense of dedication amongst a majority of the audience was clearly evident. By the time doors opened at 6:45, the line stretched way beyond the neighbouring Amsterdam ArenA, with around 2,000 people present. At dead-on 8pm, the Austin Carlile-fronted metalcore group Of Mice & Men took the elaborately designed stage. The stage, which bears resemblance to Muse’s Resistance Tour one, consisted of two LED-platforms on the sides, with a smaller platform in the middle. The screens surrounding the panels moved up and down during the show, but remained in one place for Of Mice & Men. Opening with Public Service Announcement, taken from 2014’s Restoring Force, frontman Carlile took to the stage alone before shouting out the opening verse. The rest of the band (Guitarists Alan Ashby and Phil Manansala, bassist Aaron Pauley and drummer Valentino Arteaga) swiftly joined him as they broke into a heavy riff. The song sped up quickly towards the end, with Carlile insisting “it’s none of your business” right before new single Feels like Forever. Here we see Of Mice & Men take a more radio friendly, nu-metal approach to their usually fierce brand of metalcore. Would You Still Be There followed suit with more radio friendly rock, before Another You saw Carlile request the venue be lit up with lighters and phones. Within seconds the Ziggo Dome was completely lit up as Carlile and Pauley shared vocal duties on the emotional ballad. Of the eight songs they played, seven came from brand new album Restoring Force, with The Depths being the only older song to make the cut. They finished their set on comeback single You’re Not Alone, which saw the whole front section sing along loudly. Their 30 minute set was extremely well-received down the front, yet it was very clear that a lot of people were clearly not aware or interested in them.
Linkin Park following a short half hour later, with the lights dimming as all 3 platforms lit up and the band ran onstage one by one. An electronic rock mash-up led into opening track Guilty All the Same, as literally the whole Ziggo Dome sang along. This is a rare occurrence for Dutch crowds, with them usually very tame and restrained. An extended version of Given Up followed, with a snippet of Extra Note helping the Minutes to Midnight track segue into With You. The Hybrid Theory classic saw co-vocalists Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington interchange and interplay with their vocals as Bennington howled “even if you’re not with me, I’m with you” ahead of a scratchy turntable interlude courtesy of Joe Hahn. Fan favourite One Step Closer followed with its scratchy guitar intro and waspy synths, as Bennington and Shinoda once again interchanged vocals and let the crowd sing some parts back for them. Its massive chorus translated very well through the arena, before A Thousand Suns track Blackout slowed the pace slightly with its slow, synth-led intro melody and groove-based verses. A powerful rendition of Papercut was followed by the one-two of Rebellion and Runaway. By this point, the band had been all systems go and subsequently took a little break to engage with the crowd. Wastelands, one of five songs played from The Hunting Party, brought the heaviness back into the set as pits erupted all over before the more downbeat Castle of Glass saw another opportunity for the crowd to sing along and stick lighters into the air. At this point it was time for a mid-show extended medley which featured elements of Leave Out All the Rest, Shadow of the Day, Iridescent, Robot Boy and a solo from Joe Hahn which kept the show progressing nicely with various electronic breakdowns and drops. Classic track Numb followed suit with another well-known melody and large chorus, whereas Waiting For the End saw Linkin Park go by-numbers for a while in possibly the weakest part of the show. Following track Final Masquerade made up for this weak point with a highly emotional chorus, before Wretches and Kings, Dirt Off Your Shoulder and Somewhere I Belong helped the song progress nicely towards its end. With two songs left in the main set, it was time for Linkin Park to pull their all-star out of the bag in the form of megahit In the End. Seeing 17,000 people euphorically shout “and in the end, it doesn’t even matter” is truly a sight to behold. Faint closed the main set with a little help from Of Mice & Men frontman Austin Carlile, who growled his way through the Meteora track.
As the platforms descended back down into their holding position the screens flickered further as Hahn played the intro to 2012’s Burn it Down. The whole crowd bounced as if their lives depended on it, all singing perfectly in sync with the super energetic Bennington. There wasn’t one moment in the show where the short frontman stood still for more than a few seconds; he was all over the stage for most of the show, engaging with the crowd and dancing like a euphoric lunatic. Living Things followed with its bouncy keyboards and bass-heavy drums, before short versions of New Divide and Until it’s Gone made way for the end of the show. An extended version of What I’ve Done eventually made way for set closer Bleed It Out. Shinoda made his way up and down the catwalk throughout, with a long drum solo courtesy of Rob Bourdon bringing the show to an epic ending.
The amount of emphasis Linkin Park placed on the actual show tonight proves exactly why they’re still one of the most popular live bands around, with not many bands able to compete for them in terms of showmanship and energy. Usually we’d end a review by saying that you should expect to hear a lot more from this band in the future, but that certainly isn’t the case with Linkin Park, who blew the roof off tonight.