Mike Shinoda was “Looking for an Answer”
Halfway through the concert, Shinoda sat down at the piano and recounted how he and his Linkin Park bandmates were at a photo shoot when they heard the devastating news about Bennington. “I wrote something about eight days later, and I want to share it with you,” he said, admitting that the song was not finished. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I want to keep building on it.” He called it “Glimpse 1” into how a song is made (fans will be able to track the tune’s progress on the band’s social channels).
The gorgeous, haunting piano ballad, called “Looking For an Answer,” evoked Coldplay’s Chris Martin at his most forlorn. For three-and-a-half minutes, you could hear Shinoda’s heart breaking as he sang the words:
“There’s an emptiness tonight/ A hole that wasn’t there before/ And I keep reaching for the light/ But I can’t find it anymore”
“Have I been lost all along/ Was there something I could say/ Or something I should have done.”
His voice cracked once or twice, and he hit a clunker on the keys, but there was perfection in Shinoda’s imperfection, as a survivor questioned whether he could have saved his brother.
Alanis Morissette offered up some “Rest”
As Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont of No Doubt were introduced, they were followed onto the stage by a Grammy-winning platinum blonde -- but it wasn’t Gwen Stefani. It was Alanis Morissette, rocking a new haircut and lightened tresses. The foursome performed a bass-heavy, energetic rendition of Linkin Park’s “Castle of Glass,” which served as a theme song for the 2012 video game, Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Afterwards, Morissette debuted a new song that Shinoda asked her to play upon hearing some of her unreleased demos. (“They don’t even sound like demos,” he said).
“I want to offer empathy to all people in the public eye, and to all people who are grieving,” Morissette explained. “The song is called ‘Rest,’ and it’s, of course, for Chester.”
Talinda Bennington’s message of hope
Since Bennington’s death in July, his wife of nearly 12 years (and mother to their blended family of six children) has demonstrated unflinching grace -- speaking out about suicide prevention and depression, and sharing sweet family photos and video snippets that reassure fans that Bennington loved and was loved.
In a clear, upbeat voice that wavered only slightly at times, Talinda Bennington delivered a message from center stage: “Chester and I always loved bringing people together, and he was filled with joy when our house was full of family, friends, kids, dogs, cats, birds, turtles -- the more the merrier -- and he would have loved all of this tonight... He was incredibly proud of the work done for Music For Relief. He knew it saved lives, and saving lives is exactly what we plan to do in Chester’s memory. It is time we recognize that mental health is as important as our physical health. It is my mission to make it easier to have access to mental health resources.”
In the coming weeks, Talinda Bennington will be rolling out an initiative called 320, after Chester’s birthday -- March 20. Mental health professionals were also on-site at the Hollywood Bowl, as an immediate resource for anyone in need.
Linkin Park’s Future
During the star-studded finale, Shinoda reiterated what he’s been saying about the band’s future: “We don’t know where we’re going.” But he then asked folks to stay updated through LP’s social channels, including their recently adopted hashtag, #MakeChesterProud. If anything, this night of revolving guest musicians had shown that Linkin Park’s music can adapt -- just as the band itself has over the course of their seven studio albums. Bennington may have shared vocals with newcomer Kiiara on “Heavy,” the lead single off this year’s chart topping album, One More Light, but when rising star Julia Michaels stepped in to duet, the song took on a modern pop feel that could expand the band’s reach with females and younger audiences.
Similarly, Zedd put a fresh, almost danceable spin on the latter part of Linkin Park’s early hit, “Crawling,” with Oliver Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon matching Bennington’s intensity on the mic. Another crowd pleaser was “Waiting for the End,” featuring Steven McKellar from Civil Twilight and Sydney Sierota from Echosmith -- the latter displaying a surprising rock edge and gutsiness in her performance. Others, like Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley and One Ok Rock’s Takahiro Moriuchi, were natural fits for Bennington’s anguished/angelic vocals on “The Catalyst” and “Somewhere I Belong,” respectively. Machine Gun Kelly was a stand-out for his rapid-fire rap delivery on “Papercut,” from LP’s debut album, “Hybrid Theory."
The crowd goes “Numb”
There were the professional singers, and then there were the amateurs -- all 17,500 of them -- packed into the Hollywood Bowl, stretching from the box seats into the nosebleeds. In fact, Linkin Park had so much confidence in the crowd that they performed the third song of the evening as an instrumental, allowing the audience to act as one collective lead vocalist on the band’s 2003 hit, “Numb.” Music has healing properties and that moment proved nothing heals like a massive, three-hour rock and roll sing-along.
Here's the set list:
“Robot Boy” intro
“Iridescent”/Messenger Mash Up” (Jon Green, co-writer “Nobody Can Save Me” and “Battle Symphony”)
“Roads Untraveled” (Jon Green)
“Shadow of the Day into With Or Without You” (Ryan Key of Yellowcard)
“Leave Out All the Rest” (Gavin Rossdale of (Bush)
“Somewhere I Belong” (Taka Moriuchi of One Ok Rock)
“Castle of Glass” (Tony Dumont, Adrian Young, and Tony Kanal with Alanis Morrisette)
“Rest” Alanis Morrisette)
“Nobody Can Save Me” (Steven McKellar of Civil Twilight, and Jon Green)
“Battle Symphony” (Jon Green)
“Sharp Edges” (Ilsey Juber, co-wrote “Talking to Myself” and “Sharp Edges”)
“Talking to Myself” (Ilsey Juber)
“Heavy (Kiiara & Julia Michaels)
“One More Light”
“Looking For An Answer” (Mike Shinoda)
“Waiting For The End” (Sydney Sierota of Echosmith)
“Crawling” (Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon) and Zedd)
“Papercut” (Machine Gun Kelly)
“One Step Closer (Jonathan Davis of Korn), Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh of Julien K)
“A Place For My Head” (Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember)
“Rebellion” (Daron Malakian and Shavo Odadjian of System of a Down)
“The Catalyst” (Deryck Whibley of Sum 41)
“Miss you” (Blink-182)
“What I’ve Done” (Blink-182 with Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn)
“In The End”
“A Light That Never Comes” (Steve Aoki, Frank Zummo of Sum 41)
“Burn It Down” (M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold)
“Faint” (M. Shadows)
“Bleed It Out” (everyone)