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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
Bangkok, Activ Square
23rd September 2011
Those of you who were at the Download Festival this year will no doubt remember the heavens above opened up on the Sunday and turned the site into a Metal Battle Of The Somme, with many already running for cover long before headliners Linkin Park came out of the trenches.
Now you would think that playing an open-air gig in Bangkok, it would be the ideal situation to splash on the suntan lotion, put on some cool shades and stroll around in shorts and flip-flops. However, one thing someone forgot that, in late September/October, it's the rainy season in the Land Of Smiles, and although the monsoon rain won't put a dampner on things, it certainly slowed down the intake of Chang beer.
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The Thais are very good at knowing when to make a quick baht, and someone had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast with a stall selling 'official' rain macks with the 'Linkin Park Returns To Bangkok' logo emblazoned on it for a cool 200baht. I have to say, though, that my expat friend James, who has a bald head, looked like a giant condom in his. Myself, I was braving the rain and soon dried out in the humidity of the Bangkok heat once the rain had stopped - luckily, just before the beginning of the Linkin Park set.
Some 40,000 natives were here to witness the return of Linkin Park, the third time the Californians have performed in this country. The show was held on Activ Square, the car park outside the main Impact Arena, a good hour's drive away from central Bangkok.
Unlike outdoor shows in the UK, the sound is routinely pristine and loud, and there's no noise curfew to worry about, even though there are some high-rise buildings directly behind the stage area.
There were a few Thai rock bands opening up the proceedings, including hardcore thrashers Ebola who, despite having one of the evilist names in rock and going down very well with the locals, will never break down the borders to be successful because they sing in their native tongue. It really is speak English or die.
Linkin Park got a hero's welcome, even though, tonight, they had to surrender Dave 'Phoenix' Farrell due to some Indonesian junk that was going round two nights previously. His place was taken by Ted the bass technician (sounds like a Deep Purple song).
From the off, the petite Thais were bopping up and down singing along to every word. (It's understandable why their rock bands stick to singing in Thai...). A mammoth eleven songs from their latest album 'A Thousand Suns' were included in the set, with the single, 'What I've Done', getting the first real big cheer of the night.
Although there wasn't much interaction with the crowd at first from rap metallers Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, they still held a commanding stance. Razor sharp guitarist Brad Delson looked like one of the characters from the Cheech & Chong movies.
Behind the band was a full screen replaying all the action, with some cool graphics intertwined with clips of Oppenheimer and Martin Luther King.
There may well have been a large chunk of the new album in the set, but there was no shortage of hits either. 'Numb', 'Crawling' and 'One Step Closer' were all highlights of the main set, before the band returned for a five-song encore, including the transforming 'Iridescent' and 'New Divide', before a blistering 'In The End', when the band finally got to seek some action from the already ecscatic crowd. Shinoda and Bennington bowed to give their 'wais', which was much appreciated in this heavily dominated Buddhist country.
After this, it won't be long before Linkin Park have to book their fourth visit back to this welcoming country.
Crying From You
What I've Done
When They Come For Me
No More Sorrow
Jornada del Muerto
Waiting For The End
Burning In The Skies
Breaking The Habit
One Step Closer
Justice and Love
In The End
Bleed It Out