A Night to Remember: Linkin Park and Friends Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington

Alex Wingrave reviews the highly emotional Chester Bennington tribute concert


I remember exactly where I was when I found out that Chester Bennington, vocalist in world-famous rock group Linkin Park, had taken his own life. I was at a blink-182 concert at the O2 in London, and in an arena full of excited music fans, it was a strange and heavy atmosphere to be in, as I watched other people around me check their phones in shock. Anyone who enjoys rock music will have loved Linkin Park at some point in their lives, and Bennington’s death certainly affected me and millions across the world.

Anyone who enjoys rock music will have loved Linkin Park at some point in their lives

Bennington’s tragic death on 20th July raised much awareness about depression and mental health, and inspired solidarity across the music industry, with everyone, from Rihanna and Stormzy, to Nickelback and Imagine Dragons, paying their respects to the singer. It’s only fitting that Linkin Park’s first performance since their vocalist’s passing was a titanic memorial concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, dubbed ‘Linkin Park and Friends – Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington’. The event featured over twenty guest musicians and raised money for the group’s One More Light Fund, a mental health branch of the Music for Relief charity. The band live-streamed the October 27th concert on YouTube, allowing fans across the world like myself to watch the show.

And what a show it was; led by the band’s other frontman Mike Shinoda, remaining members Brad Delson, Rob Bourdon, Joe Hahn and Dave Farrell powered through nearly 3 hours’ worth of an extensive back catalogue, providing soaring highs and contemplative emotional lows. Early in the night, the stage was emptied save for a lone microphone stand, spotlighted, as the band’s hit ‘Numb’ played instrumentally, leaving the 17,500-strong crowd to belt out Bennington’s lyrics in an incredibly powerful moment. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two here, as I did when Shinoda later performed a new song written eight days after his friend’s passing, ‘Looking for a Answer’, alone on piano in solemn dedication. Frequent cutaways to the crowd by the camera showed I was not alone; there was barely a dry eye in the arena.

there was barely a dry eye in the arena

However, despite the heartbreak, this night was all about having fun and celebrating the life of Chester Bennington, as Shinoda himself made very clear. By bringing out stars from all corners of music, Linkin Park kept the evening fresh and exciting, giving the fans watching and attending a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Highlights included: Alanis Morrissette joining the band for ‘Castle of Glass’ and a yet-to-be-released song from her, ‘Rest’; Oli Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon belting out quintessential angsty anthem ‘Crawling’; and the aforementioned blink-182 forming a supergroup with the band to perform ‘I Miss You’ and the epic ‘What I’ve Done’. The revolving door of vocalists certainly made for a great show, but they also highlighted what a talent Bennington was, with very few performers managing to capture the same magic and power that he brought to these songs.

After an encore including collaborations with Steve Aoki, Bebe Rexha and Avenged Sevenfold, all the musical guests of the night flooded on stage to close the set with ‘Bleed It Out’, and end the musical proceedings on a euphoric high. This was an incredibly important night in music, both for memorialising a man who made an impact on so many people, and for showing that Linkin Park will continue as an icon in the industry for years to come. Rest in peace, Chester.

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