Why Group Give Singapore A Miss
Malaysia boleh! We love you! Nothing is impossible!
Not a political rally, but rock band Linkin Park in concert
YES, there was loud screaming - but contained within the songs.
Yes, they jumped up and down crates that littered the stage - but stopped short of body surfing.
Yes, they were covered up appropriately in typical laidback Southern California style: T-shirts, baggy pants, baseball caps.
And, yes, everyone heaved a sigh of relief.
The supposedly hardcore boys of rap-rock band Linkin Park adhered to Malaysia's much-hyped strict code of performance conduct during Wednesday evening's concert at Kuala Lumpur's Merdeka Stadium.
It was their first and only South-east Asian stopover in the Meteora Asian Tour.
But the good behaviour didn't just stop there.
AFRAID TO OFFEND
Not only was the six-piece outfit afraid to offend, singer Chester Bennington and rapper Mike Shinoda were extremely eager to please, and showered PG-rated compliments throughout the 80-minute show.
It started with general gushing, like 'It's wonderful to be here, all of you are such wonderful people' and 'We've been having a great time, thanks for making us feel so special'.
In the middle, Shinoda even laid down the law to his street soldiers in the mosh pit, saying: 'What's more important than Too Phat (the opening act) or even us, is you guys. If anyone falls down or if anyone looks like he's going to get hurt, pick them up. Keep everyone safe tonight.'
Genuine concern, or damage control? Certainly, no band wants casualties at its concerts.
Luckily, the kids right in front managed to go wild without going caveman.
Unluckily, the 10,000-odd mash of bodies in the rest of the open-air ground pitch didn't fare so well.
Sweaty, dehydrated boys and girls - who were being crushed against the barriers by the surging masses and were close to fainting - were plucked out by the security people every other minute.
Oblivious, Bennington took his enthusiastic praises further: 'You guys are beautiful tonight! We've always wanted to come down and play for all you wonderful people! It's such a blessing for us! No other town in the world has treated us so well!'
After several tracks from their top-selling three albums, Hybrid Theory, Reanimation and Meteora, he continued in cheerleader mode: 'I want all of you to repeat this after me. Malaysia boleh (can)! Malaysia boleh! We love you guys! Nothing is impossible!
''This is the largest crowd we've ever had to play in the world, so it's a very special night for us!'
And, as the ear-bleedingly loud gig drew to a close, both Bennington and Shinoda looked chuffed as children at Christmas at the way Malaysian fans responded.
So Shinoda signed off with more warm fuzzies: 'Every single person here, we love you! Respect each other and be safe. We're going to come back!'
I was half-expecting Bennington to bring out the Malaysian flag and wave it around after he blew kisses to the audience, bowed graciously several times, and shouted: 'This is the happiest day of my life!'
Crowd cajolery once in a while is standard fare.
But punctuating every other song with it is, well, skin-crawling.
Singaporean Marcus Lim, who took a coach up to Kuala Lumpur to see Linkin Park live, wasn't very convinced by its verbal bouquets.
'It's politics. Did you see how they were trying their best to shout 'Malaysia boleh'? It's like they were currying favour with the Malaysian authorities. If they were in Singapore, they'd probably say something like that too.'
The 26-year-old driver also felt the performance was 'quite disciplined'.
'They controlled themselves. During their US and UK performances, they would shout obscenities.'
But, as Linkin Park's famous song goes, in the end, it doesn't even matter.
As long as the fans rocked out.
Lodynatasha, 20, a student from Jakarta, raved: 'I don't know the real Linkin Park, I've only seen them on TV. But I don't care what they say, I still liked (the show) a lot!'
Public relations manager Rhoda Tan, 26, added: 'It's usual courtesy to suck up to the audience, but some parts did come across as quite sincere.
'And the concert was kicking, and the atmosphere was rousing. Quite remarkable for such a young band.'
Yep, nu-metal favourites like Somewhere I Belong, Faint, Numb, Papercut and closing number One Step Closer were enough to please the 28,000-strong crowd.
It comprised mainly teenage and 20-something males in black attire, jumping like human pogo sticks, pumping their fists in the air and singing their hearts out to melodic megahits like Crawling and In The End.
And, as expected, Linkin Park's explosive combination of turntable beats, angsty vein-popping vocals, furious rhymes and crashing guitarwork sounded better live than on your discman.
Student Noorhuda Ridawi, 19, said excitedly: 'It was perfect! We had a great time, although I wished it was a little longer.
'Now, I just hope they come to Singapore!'
Why group gave Singapore a miss...
WE usually don't get to hear guitarist Brad Delson and drummer Rob Bourdon - the two lower-profile (read 'less popular') members from Linkin Park - say much.
But, during a backstage interview with The New Paper two hours before showtime, Delson, 26, displayed a cheeky, flirty personality, while Bourdon, 24, was shy, soft-spoken and a man of few words.
But both were genuinely apologetic when asked why they gave Singapore a miss on their South-east Asian tour.
Guitarist Delson explained: 'Oh, we'd love to come. Joe (Hahn) and Chester (Bennington) have been there before and told us it was an incredible country and that we have a lot of fans there.
'Unfortunately, our schedule now is such that we can only do so many shows. We're only human.'
Having arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Australia's Livid music festival held in Sydney and Melbourne, the band flies to Brisbane today before proceeding to Japan and South Korea.
Drummer Bourdon assured: 'If we don't hit (the places we want to go to) this time, when the next record comes out, we'll definitely get there.'
Good news to look forward to, considering Bourdon is quite the favourite among local female fans.
'Yeah?' he chuckled bashfully. 'I have a serious girlfriend. We've no plans to get married anytime soon, but we've been together for a little over two years, and everything's going good so far.'
Delson chimed in: 'Actually, I think Mark, our videographer, gets the most female attention!'
So, have their egos ever gotten the better of them? Delson deadpanned: 'Just Rob. The rest of us are really even-keeled.'
Bourdon retorted: 'No, actually it's Brad, but see, people confuse us. People always ask me for guitar picks and ask Brad for drumsticks.'
One gets the feeling that being in Kuala Lumpur really put Linkin Park in a good mood.
During their three-day stay, the guys visited the Petronas Towers and enjoyed the panoramic view of the city.
Delson said: 'I was impressed with how modern and beautiful the city is, especially the architecture of some of these buildings.
'Also, pretty much everyone we met here has been really friendly and hospitable, and we've also noticed that the people are very proud of their country and really want to extend themselves to make sure their guests have a great time.'
They also gave the thumbs up to the 'incredible' chicken satay.
Bourdon raved: 'We've had it before in other places and in the States, but it's nowhere as good as it is here.'
Finally, I couldn't resist asking whether Linkin Park would ever release a happy love song in the near future instead of the usual angst-ridden repertoire.
Delson joked: 'Yeah! I keep asking (songwriters Bennington and Shinoda), when are we going to lighten up? No one would give me an answer!
'But so many fans have connected to our music and lyrics so personally that, so far, it's been really rewarding for us as artistes to be able to communicate with them in that way.'
Linkin Park's new DVD/CD, Live In Texas, containing concert footage from the Summer Sanitarium Tour, will be released here on Nov 17.
"The New Paper" Magazine - October 17, 2003