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High Voltage

Linkin Park more than made up for starting concert 90 minutes late

It was not without irony. Anti-establishment rock group Linkin Park holding its first Singapore gig at the Padang, right across from City Hall. More irony: The band's "self-censorship" as it pummelled its Singapore audience of 10,000 with its angsty hits. Tuesday's concert, however, was a long time coming for fans. And literally so, for some, who turned up as early as 5pm. While the faithful waited in hope of catching the band's rehearsals — they never did, as all the rock-star technicalities such as guitar tuning were left to the roadies — I headed to the Singapore Recreational Club for a chat with DJ Joe Hahn and bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell. Despite fielding press interviews all day long — our interview was pushed back an hour to accommodate the Malaysian press — the two were in high spirits and extremely polite. As one of the minders quickly cleared half-finished cups of coffee, the bespectacled Hahn, wearing an oversized Gun N Roses T-shirt, came over. "Sorry man, it's been a mad house here," he said as he shook my hand and smiled almost apologetically.

It's going down ...

The boys were clearly awed by Singapore — not just by the food and warm weather, but also the McCafes and, most of all, the fact that there's a Borders outlet downtown. "Felt at home while there," smiled Hahn. When talk moved to their upcoming album, there were glum faces all around. "The thing is, we already had an album ready," explained the bald and bearded Farrell. "We recorded it over the last few years and were hoping to release it after the Meteora tour winds down in September. "Unfortunately, the hard disk was erased accidentally. "So, to tell you the truth, I'm really gutted about that." Accidentally? What gives? "(Rapper) Mike Shinoda has this collection of industrial strength magnets and absent-mindedly left the hard disk on top of his magnet collection," said Farrell. Bummer. "It's a real shame," added an equally pensive-looking Hahn. "I don't think we'll set about recreating that album. It took us three years to make. Now that it's gone, I guess we'll just start from scratch."

Right now, the only thing keeping the sextet happy is the upcoming Project Revolution concerts happening in July and August all across America. Linkin Park will headline, of course, but they will be joined by bands such as Korn and hip-hop heavyweight Snoop Dogg, in an attempt to further unite the hip-hop and metal divide. "Now this makes up for the hard disk fiasco," Farrell laughed, clearly excited about the tour. As excited as they were to play in Singapore, Farrell and Shinoda added quickly. "We've really been looking forward to coming here," said Shinoda. "Frankly I do hope we do well. It'd be real nice to be asked back again."

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One step closer ...

The chat over, the guys were whisked away by their minders for dinner. The crowd was waiting. In addition to the expected angst-ridden teenagers were men in suits, as well as one cool daddy with junior perched on his shoulders, standing right in front of this reporter. Linkin Park would bring the noise soon enough, I told myself. After all, Hahn has promised a good gig and, judging by their track record, they were not a band to disappoint.
The opening band, South Korea's PIA, did a commendable job in warming up the crowd with their brand of Korn-esque rap-metal. Despite the initial jeers from a crowd impatient for the band they came to see, PIA soldiered on bravely and, in the end, turned those jeers into cheers.

In the end …

Linkin Park finally strolled onto the stage at 9.30pm — some 90 minutes late. But all tardiness was forgiven as the crowd cheered them like conquering heroes. The band wasted no time in putting on a show of the grandest scale, filling the air with heavy riffs, boundless energy and inspiring more than a few fist-pumping scenes along the way.

Video screens at both sides of the stage offered a flurry of images of the band members and singers Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda zig-zagging across the massive stage, as they steamrolled through their best known hits. Somewhere I Belong, Breaking The Habit, One Step Closer and Numb … each number would whip the headbangers in the mosh pit down front into a frenzy. It was an amazing sight. Linkin Park may have recorded only two albums' worth of material, but they had the Padang crowd singing every chorus of every song, syllable by syllable.

And then there was their cover of Nine Inch Nails' Wish (from 1992's Broken), a rendition that was, hilariously, sanitised by Bennington's choice of blurring the cuss words with him either saying "Beep", or screaming. The daddy, who had junior on his shoulders, must have been really proud. But, their forgiving fans will surely insist, in the end it doesn't really matter ...

Today - June 24, 2004



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