Linkin Park & Chris Cornell @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne (14/10/2007)

The Linkin Park experience is like no other. It’s one thing to listen to their well-crafted studio albums; it’s something quite extraordinary to see them perform live.

Audioslave lead man Chris Cornell warmed up the audience in a set that went for almost an hour. His stage presence is intense; his eyes stare out the crowd, which is then softened by a smile when he sees the lips of those singing along. The beginning of –  “Like a Stone’ evoked a few cheers which he appreciated and acknowledged. Some of the hits he performed were –  “Be Yourself’, –  “Show Me How To Live’ and his solo single –  “You Know My Name’. But it was clear who the crowd had paid to see.

The haunting introduction to –  “No More Sorrow’ from their newest album Minutes To Midnight was the first indication that Linkin Park were about to rock Melbourne. On the beat, the curtain collapsed — the song kicked in to the sound of a massive roar.

Vocalist Chester Bennington quickly stripped down, removing his jacket, then his long-sleeved top to reveal the inked –  “Linkin Park’ across his lower back. The band and the songs are in his blood. He also commented on a fan’s tattoo that he liked and could see from the stage — “We are brothers,” he said.

Chester became the music as his arms floated with the softer beats and body thrashed around to the hard-rocking classics we associate with Linkin Park. Those clustered in the front section on the floor could almost feel the sweat dripping from his face; the proof of how much of himself he was willing to give. And on a lighter note, he laughed at the sweat patch on Mike Shinoda’s back that resembled the shape of Texas.

Only a few seconds of –  “Bleed It Out’ was heard before every pair of hands in the crowd were together clapping high in the air, producing the same visual beauty as the emotional performance of –  “Hands Held High’. The crowd followed the lead of the band, pumped closed fists opened into wide-spread hands. This song was Mike’s moment, the emotions were written all over his face.

Mike and Chester, each under a spotlight, evoked similar feelings from ballads –  “Pushing Me Away’ ( Hybrid Theory, 2000 ) and the soon to be released single –  “Shadow of the Day’. The crowd embraced the older material as well as the new and sang along, which brought a smile to the face of Mike Shinoda who, throughout the concert, held the microphone stand out towards the crowd. There is no denying his talents, from varying his vocals, to playing guitar and keyboard.

But Chester’s vocals absolutely blow you away. You wouldn’t think he could maintain the intensity throughout the demanding set but he does without question. His lower tones cut through every time and the vocal screams never weaken.

They powered through the hits from Hybrid Theory, Meteora and Minutes to Midnight including –  “Breaking the Habit’, –  “Numb’, –  “In the End’ and –  “What I’ve Done’. The massive wall of lights at the back of the stage added to the drum beats, guitar riffs and sublime vocals, which all combined and united to deliver a first-class performance.

When they left the stage, an encore was inevitable with –  “One Step Closer’ still to be performed. The crowd went for it. –  “Faint’ finished off this unforgettable show.