Linkin Park at US Airways Center Last Night

Linkin Park US Airways Center Monday, February 28

Linkin Park is taking their sound in a new direction. While that move is taking them into some unfamiliar territory, it's something that isn't completely unexpected. Even though they are best known for their rap-rock style that was found on their debut, Hybrid Theory, you can find songs on several of their past records that show the band slowly evolving. With the band's latest record, A Thousand Suns, the group is taking some big steps in putting Hybrid Theory and its nu-metal beginnings behind them.

As another writer Christopher Weingarten put it, A Thousand Suns has essentially become Linkin Park's OK Computer. And even though OK Computer is now arguably considered by most to be Radiohead's best album, when it was first released it was a pretty divisive record. So far A Thousand Suns has received a pretty similar love it or hate it response from long time fans.

So how would Linkin Park's latest album play out in front of a near capacity crowd last night at US Airways Center? Pretty well, actually.

Linkin Park has a bit of a home court advantage, so to speak, since lead singer Chester Bennington is from The Valley and co-owns Club Tattoo. Which likely worked in their favor last night. And also, the band, wisely, eased into the new material by kicking off their set with a couple of songs that leaned more towards the more familiar rap-rock style. Tracks like "New Divide" and "Given Up" allowed vocalist Mike Shinoda to take center stage and show that he is a more than capable MC.

As the set progressed, though, Shinoda took a bit of a back seat to Chester Bennington as they moved into the new material from A Thousand Suns. And, for the most part these songs were well received from the audience. Songs like "When They Come For Me" and "Waiting for the End" had most fans singing along with the band, hands waiving in the air. It definitely appeared as though the set list had been given some thought, as the pacing of the songs from A Thousand Suns seemed well laid out. But there were a few misses, like the song "Wisdom, Justice, and Love" which features a sample of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Most fans weren't sure exactly how there were suppose to react with this one.

Last night's performance also showcased Bennington's progression as a singer. While early on in the set he showed he can still scream into the microphone with the best of them, other parts of the show definitely highlighted his vocal abilities. The song "The Messenger" had Bennington singing only with an acoustic guitar to back him up and he even performed a cappella at the end of "Breaking the Habit." But the night wasn't perfect, as he admittedly did forget some of the lyrics to "Crawling." But, it was a pretty minor mistake in an otherwise strong performance.

While almost all the songs off of A Thousand Suns played last night went over well with the crowd it was the band's signature radio hits that really got the crowd whipped into a frenzy. And in that respect Linkin Park definitely delivered by playing essentially a 'best of' in the later part of their set. The band had a ton of energy for the show and put on a pretty fantastic show.

Setlist: The Requiem Papercut Wretches and Kings Given Up New Divide Faint Empty Spaces When They Come For Me No More Sorrow Jornada del Muerto Waiting For The End Wisdom, Justice, and Love Iridescent Numb The Radiance Breaking The Habit Shadow of the Day Crawling One Step Closer

Encore: Fallout The Catalyst The Messenger In The End What I've Done Bleed It Out

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Linkin Park, Circa Survive, Paper Tongues at US Airways Center

Personal Bias: Not a huge Linkin Park fan, but I definitely thought the show last night was a pretty good one.

The Crowd: Definitely more diverse than I thought. Lots of middle-aged folks in attendance. I was thinking this was going to be a much younger audience.

Random Notebook Dump: There was nearly an hourlong break in between Circa Survive and Linkin Park, which seemed a bit excessive if you ask me.