‘One More Light Live’ Allows Chester Bennington’s Voice to Shine Throughout Special Set – Album Review
Think about the first time you heard Chester Bennington. It was likely that incredibly intense almost primal scream warning you to “shut up” in “One Step Closer” that perked up your ears and was the first hint of a voice that distinguished him from many others. But while many took notice of that intensity, the singer continued to evolve, honing his craft and adding equally devastating melodic and more vulnerable moments to match his power. Simply put, his voice was a gift that connected with listeners in a way that few others could match.
With the One More Light album released earlier this year, Linkin Park did take some grief from their fan base over a poppier sound, but it was a disc that allowed Bennington to really showcase that melodic side even further. Some wondered how the new material might fit within the band’s tried and tested catalog, but those who were lucky enough to catch the group early in 2017 soon discovered that it still all worked quite well. The band was a closer unit than ever, energized by the material they had just created and it showed onstage. For those who didn’t catch the band before Bennington’s untimely demise this summer, the One More Light Live album gives the doubters a chance to reconsider Bennington’s final musical statement with the band and their longtime supporters a chance to revisit the vocal prowess of the singer.
“We dedicate this live album to our brother Chester who poured his heart and soul into One More Light,” stated the band upon announcing the live album release. “After we finished recording the album, we joked with Chester that - since he had delivered so many stunning performances in the studio - he had set the bar extra high to produce that alchemy on stage each night. Not surprisingly, he welcomed the challenge.”
While there is a tendency of many bands to shy away from new material, often introducing it intermittently throughout the length of their touring cycle, Linkin Park immediately showed their confidence in the One More Light album, sprinkling a healthy dose of the disc throughout their set. The show opening “Talking to Myself” gets things off on the right foot, with fans getting caught up in the clap-along catchiness of the track. The triumphant “Battle Symphony” and the mid-tempo tracks “Invisible” and “Nobody Can Save Me” all get early spotlights in the band’s set before the somber, heart-wrenching “One More Light” title track gives this disc arguably its finest moment. Given the events of the summer, it’s hard not to get choked up when listening to Bennington in one of his most vulnerable moments onstage. And with “One More Light” followed by a stripped-back somber arrangement for the band’s mega-hit “Crawling” allowing the crowd to sing along with Bennington, it’s a powerful one-two punch that’s sure to stick with you long after the final notes play.
The One More Light material doesn’t stop there either, with latter set performances of “Good Goodbye” and “Sharp Edges,” showing their album could’ve had some legs. The latter track was actually worked up in the hours prior to the performance, with Bennington strapping on a guitar to perform alongside Brad Delson in one of the band's most well-crafted new songs.
But One More Light Live isn’t just a salute to their most recent disc. “Burn It Down” and “New Divide” feel as vital as the moment they first came blasting through your speakers. “What I’ve Done” and the playful, show-closing “Bleed It Out” allow for more powerful moments from their back catalog. Meanwhile “Leave Out All the Rest,” “What I’ve Done,” “In the End,” “Numb” and the first One More Light single “Heavy” all showcase Bennington’s unique ability to connect and cut through with lyric and performance.
“Chester was uniquely passionate, uncommonly generous, sensitive, optimistic, funny, and kind. With his voice, he turned pain into catharsis, authenticity into art, and passion into connection. His dedication to bringing these songs to life was triumphant,” state the band. “For those of you who attended this tour in person, we thank you. For those who could not, we hope this live album gives you a glimpse into how magical these shows were for the six of us.”
As a final document of Bennington's time with the band, One More Light Live shows the continued evolution of the group, finding that perfect balance between heavy and melodic. It's a more restrained live set, but one that is no less impactful than what they have delivered in the past. It's also a testament to their ability to connect with a wide variety of listeners, bringing both ends of the musical spectrum together into one still outstanding live show.
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