Linkin Park still has the energy to rock.

LP - - Linkin Park still has the energy to rock.

February 14, 2008
Twin Cities

One couldn't help but wonder when Linkin Park named their third album "Minutes to Midnight" whether it meant that, yeah, even they thought their time was just about up. But the rap/metal band's barnburner Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center proved, if anything, these guys have managed to turn back the clock.

In front of 13,300 screaming fans, the California six-piece offered 90-minutes of sleek, high-energy arena rock. While still far from timeless, Linkin Park's oeuvre feels sturdier than the majority of their one-time contemporaries, most notably Korn and Limp Bizkit.

It helps that these guys have scored more than a dozen rock radio hits - and Wednesday night, they played pretty much every one of them, from their 2000 breakthrough "One Step Closer" all the way through the currently charting "Given Up."

Spread across a massive, vaguely pyramid-like stage outfitted with enough moving screens, lifts and smoke to make Celine Dion green with envy, the band opened with an almost unrelenting half hour of songs. Lead singer Chester Bennington sprinted from corner to corner and around the back like an athlete and, rather impressively, still summoned enough breath to belt out the lyrics, many of which he delivered in almost primal screams.

Kicking off with "What I've Done," the first half-dozen songs concentrated on newer stuff, from both "Minutes to Midnight" and 2003's "Meteora." But even an album track like "No More Sorrow" had the crowd caught up in mass adulation. Later in the set, slower cuts like "Numb" and "Shadow of the Day" gave Bennington a chance to catch his breath, but the audience's rapt attention rarely waned.

On the latest album, rapper Mike Shinoda's presence is somewhat diminished, but in concert he was up front for much of the show, providing a more subdued focal point that contrasted with Bennington's vein-popping visage. (Turntablist Joe Hahn, though, barely tried to hide his lack of things to do and ambled lazily between his decks and sound effects board like a sullen teen.)

Speaking of sullen teens, it's Linkin Park's limited lyrical vocabulary that proved to be the only real sticking point of the show. The lines, "Take this all away, I'm suffocating ... put me out of my misery" from "Given Up" may as well be a manifesto for the group, who cover loneliness, betrayal and despair in the most basic possible terms. Then again, feeling sorry for yourself never really goes out of style.