The last time I was at the Air Canada Centre for something other than a Raptors game was for Kanye West’s Yeezus Tour back in December. This time, I was here mainly to see Linkin Park, arguably my first favourite band I discovered when I was around 11-12 years old. I know this is primarily a hip-hop blog, but those who read about the 25 most influential albums on my life know that occasionally I’ll step outside that realm and take on some other types of music. In this case, we’re about to get into some rock and heavy-metal as Linkin Park is out to promote their new album, The Hunting Party, by co-headlining this Carnivores Tour with 30 Seconds To Mars. I have to thank my cousin (you know who you are) for hooking up these tickets as a birthday gift.
I got to the Air Canada Centre fairly early and had time to check out some of the overpriced t-shirts and Linkin Park action figures (no, I’m not joking). I found my seats almost directly underneath the new Atlantic Division Championship banner earned by the Raptors, and pretty soon AFI came out to open the show. Pardon my ignorance, but although AFI has been out for years, I don’t know any of their music and this show was my first time hearing anything by them. They came out with a lot of energy right away, and the building quickly filled up as they went through their set. The lead singer pulled some stunts I’ve seen at rap shows like walking on top of the crowd and singing as they held him up. It was a solid 40-minute set to start the night off right.
Next up was the co-headliner, 30 Seconds To Mars. This is another band I knew nothing about (other than it being led by Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto), but I did get to listen to their This Is War album a couple days before the concert. Of course they had an epic, theatrical introduction before getting things started with their newest single, “Up In The Air”. Jared came out dressed in a white cloak, looking like a depiction of Jesus Christ, and he had his own platform on the stage which lit up. While they used lots of theatrics like beach balls and confetti to get the crowd hyped, Jared also demonstrated excellent showmanship as the frontman for his band.
Jared talked to specific people in the crowd to get them involved, ran around the entire lower level of the Air Canada Centre, and even brought fans on stage with him during the set. During the song “Kings & Queens” he sang amongst the people, running around the barricades and jumping into the first few rows of seating. Later on, the band seemed to leave and the lights cut off, but then Jared emerged on another stage in the middle of the mosh pit. He did a couple songs by himself with his guitar, including an acoustic version of “The Kill”, and also took some requests. After that segment, the lights cut off again and he ran back to the main stage to bring some fans up for selfies as the band came back for a final song. While I don’t know their songs well enough, the impressive stage presence of 30 Seconds To Mars was undeniable.
After a short break between sets, it was finally time to see Linkin Park. Contrary to the other bands, I’ve actually heard every album by Linkin Park and I’m a huge fan of theirs. I really enjoyed their Hybrid Theory, Reanimation, and Meteora albums when I was a kid, and you could say it was Mike Shinoda’s rapping that started my transition from a rock fan to a rap fan. I also enjoyed 2007’s Minutes To Midnight, and although I wasn’t really into the electronic sound they developed over the next two albums, I think their newest album (The Hunting Party) is a trip back to their vintage heavy-metal sound. Of course, their hip-hop-heavy side projects like Collision Course and the Fort Minor album were all great to me. Having followed them from the very first album, you could say this concert was a bucket list item for me.
After a quick little intro, Linkin Park got right into the lead single off the new album: “Guilty All The Same”. With the guitar solos at the beginning and end of the song, as well as having both vocalists involved (Mike rapped Rakim‘s verse), this was a great way to begin their set. Linkin Park kept the heavy-metal sound going as they continued into “Given Up” and “One Step Closer”, with Chester delivering his most aggressive vocals of the night. While Linkin Park didn’t have as many theatrical props as 30 Seconds To Mars, they had more screens with visuals I couldn’t see much of from my angle. These screens also blocked my view of Joe on the turntables and Rob on the drums.
This first part of their set featured a lot of Hybrid Theory tracks, as they performed “Points of Authority”, “Papercut” and “Runaway” between newer songs like “Rebellion”, “Wastelands” and “Castle of Glass”. After “Castle”, they continued to mellow out the vibe with “Leave Out All The Rest” before Joe Hahn did a little solo DJ set. Next, they did some tracks off their most recent albums like “Burn It Down”, “Waiting For The End”, “Final Masquerade”, and “Wretches and Kings”; then Mike got his Fort Minor segment with “Remember The Name”. Linkin Park wrapped up their set with “Numb” (with Chester singing a bit of Jay-Z’s “Encore” too), “In The End” and finally “Faint”, with Mike and Chester both running up to the crowd to clap hands with the fans.
As expected, Linkin Park came back out for an encore. They came out to “Lost In The Echo” before doing some older hits like “New Divide” and “Crawling”. They kept the music going with a little medley and Mike rapped a verse I think I recognized from “With You” before diving into the newest single, “Until It’s Gone”. Mike then got back on the keys to perform “What I’ve Done” before Linkin Park ended the show with “Bleed It Out”, combined with a similar drum solo Rob did on their Road to Revolution dvd.
Overall, I’d say Linkin Park lived up to the hype. I was surprised they didn’t do as many songs off their Meteora album, but it was a great show nonetheless. Chester Bennington is one of the greatest vocalists in music and it’s amazing to see the range he has in person. It was also cool to see Mike make seamless transitions from playing guitar, to playing keyboard, to being a background vocalist, to being the main frontman throughout the show. Chester might be the face of the band, but Mike is the heart of it. If you’re into loud rock music, I would definitely recommend The Carnivores Tour if it comes to your city.
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Shoutout to @JustinGoulet21 for providing some pictures