Linkin Park finds itself at a crossroads a lot of bands have trouble navigating.
Last year, the band best known for its fusion of hip-hop and modern rock, released “A Thousand Suns,” its fourth studio album and its first in more than three years. It also launched its first tour since 2008.
The music business has shifted and changed a lot since then, and the path to success is a lot more uncertain, even for a band with two multi-platinum albums and one diamond album (10 million sold) on its resume.
Saturday night, Linkin Park headlined a show at the Sprint Center, drawing around 8,000 fans. The band spent about 100 minutes serving a carefully choreographed mix of the old — songs and hits from “Hybrid Theory,” “Meteora” and “Minutes to Midnight” — with the new. If you’d never heard a Linkin Park song before, you would still have little trouble recognizing which was which, and not only by the crowd’s reaction.
They took the stage as the PA played with a new one, “The Requiem,” a gust of ambience that suggests someone has been catching up on their Radiohead, then “Papercut,” a song from “Hybrid Theory” that raps and roars like it’s Y2K all over again.
And so it went for most of the night: hits and standards shuffled among a healthy serving of new material. Mike Shinoda is the band’s resident MC and multi-tasker (he plays guitar and keyboards, too), and though he shares the spotlight with vocalist Chester Bennington, he comes out ahead in the charisma department. Bennington seems well served by the change in musical direction, which suits a voice that has trouble commanding an arena. The new material is steeped in ambience and electronica and though it made for some good listening (and video watching), much of it was greeted with polite recognition from an audience that was engaged all night but clearly more so during the older material. So songs like “Emty Spaces/When They Come For Me” — a rabble of hip-hop, electronica, and generic world beat music — served as setups for “No More Sorrow,” a firestorm of screamcore and modern rock. Even the encore was a hybrid of old and new, including solid-gold favorites like “In The End,” the Coldplay-like ballad “Shadow of the Day,” “The New Divide,” the band’s contribution to a “Transformers” soundtrack, and “Faint,” from the “Meteora” album. It gave the show a profound sense of before and after: the sounds of a band that is proud of its past but evolving steadily away from it. Saturday night, it appeared a lot of their longtime fans are willing to go along for the ride.Setlist: The Requiem; Papercut; Lying From You; Given Up; What I’ve Done; Empty Spaces; When They Come For Me; No More Sorrow; Jornada Del Muerto; Waiting For The End; Burning In The Skies; Numb; The Radiance; Breaking the Habit; Fallout; The Catalyst; Crawiing; One Step Closer; Bleed it Out; Wisdom, Justice and Love; Iridescent; Shadow of the Day; In the End; The New Divide; Faint.