@ Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, November 5 2010

nU2? Believe it or not it’s the nu-metal scene which has spawned the greatest commercial threat to Bono and his buddies. Yes, you read that right.

If it was impossible to imagine Linkin Park forgoing their metal roots for a polished stadium rock sheen a decade ago then the reality is this is the band most likely to take U2’s coveted global crown.

Crafting accessible, pop-rock tunes made for middle America, Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda and co. have evolved beyond all recognition. For better or worse.

If, as a LP die-hard, you refuse to look past Hybrid Theory when assessing the US heavyweights then these are dark days indeed. But if you’re prepared to accept A Thousand Suns as evidence of an act breaking barriers and defying convention this is an exciting era worthy of recognition.

As the Linkin lads showcased their new material, pop rock stadium staples including A-Ha, Moby and Pendulum sprung to mind. But most of all Bennington aped Bono and proved Linkin Park are here to stay. At the vanguard of the nu-metal movement with the releases of their 2000 debut, this canny crew have confounded the critics and laughed in the face of convention to reinvent themselves as the modern rock heroes of choice.

Who, in all honesty, could have predicted that a live performance from the kings of angular riffs would rely so little on the electric guitar? Yet this was a night when tribal beats and pounding bass lines whipped the crowd into a frenzy and soaring solos were few and far between.

Incredibly the new songs sounded awesome in an arena environment and backed by thousands of delirious devotees. Listen to A Thousand Suns on your iPod and it’s an ineffective haze of post-Innerpartsystem dance rock. Experience the new songs in an arena, against am imaginative backdrop, and the album enjoys a new lease of life. But the record’s still an obvious grower.

Bennington and Shinoda are clearly proud of their sparkling new addition and tracks like The Catalyst are pure quality. And the intensity of Wisdom. Justice And Love hinted at the duo’s development as serious songwriters.

But an encore featuring In The End was always going to tick the relevant boxes: it did. As a bunch of no-holds-barred kids Linkin Park were dogged by immaturity and indecision. A decade down the line and they’ve developed in to one of the most engaging and relevant bands on the planet. Boys to men; nu metal to rock – it’s a tough journey and failure is not an option.

Simon Rushworth