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Concert Reviews:
Incubus drives 'em wild for Honda Civic Tour stop at The Palace

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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AUBURN HILLS -- Tour sponsors don't always jibe with the acts on the bill. But if Honda is trying to sell its Civic as a high-performance vehicle, it certainly found a match on this year's Honda Civic Tour with headliner Linkin Park.

Back in the metro area just 19 months after rocking Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, the Los Angeles sextet brought an equally and maybe even more potent presentation to the suburbs on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Palace. With a new album, "Living Things," that hews closer to the group's earlier, reputation-making brand of rap-rock than 2010's electronic flavored "A Thousand Suns," Linkin Park distributed its 95-minute set equitably throughout its catalog, covering plenty of ground and seldom pausing to give the band members -- or the exuberant though far from sold out Palace crowd -- much time to breath.

Playing on a two-level stage backed by a large HD video screen and accented by occasional bursts of fire and pyrotechnics, the group walked on to the theme from HBO's "Game of Thrones" and charged right into a fierce rendition of "With You," with MC Mike Shinoda rapping and vocalist Chester Bennington singing chorus hooks. Linkin Park kept the energy level on the proverbial 11 throughout the night from there, mixing big hits ("One Step Closer," "Faint," "In the End," "Somewhere I Belong," "What I've Done," "The Catalyst," "New Divide") with a few choice deep cuts, including a particularly charged "When They Come For Me" and a muscular version of "Living Things' " Bennington-dominated "In My Remains."

The other new songs -- especially the truly incendiary "Burn It Down" -- fit seamlessly with Linkin Park's established material, while the group packaged three of its gentler tunes -- "Leave Out All the Rest," "Shadow of the Day" and "Iridescent" -- into a mid-show medley. And after playing a couple of Beastie Boys songs on the P.A. right before it took the stage, Linkin Park paid further tribute to that group's late Adam "MCA" Yauch by tossing a bit of the Beasties' "Sabotage" into an already pulverizing "Bleed It Out."

Incubus, nominally the tour's co-headliner, was in fine form as well during its 85-minute set, though it couldn't help but suffer in comparison to the sheer force of Linkin Park's performance. Following a quick but impactful opening by Mutemath -- which culminated in an epic version of the "Typical" from its 2009 debut album -- Incubus offered an artier ebb and flow across its 16 songs, waiting until the fourth, "Megalomaniac," to really start cranking things up.

That approach wasn't without its appeal; "Promises, Promises," which frontman Brandon Boyd started out accompanied only by guitarist Mike Einziger on piano, and "Aqueous Transmission" were effectively moving, and "In the Company of Wolves" got a big cheer -- though as much for Boyd removing his shirt as for the song itself. But spreading out rockers such as "If Not Now, When?," "Anna Molly," "Switchblade" and "Sick Sad Little World" kept Incubus decidedly earthbound and easily plowed under by Linkin Park's powerhouse performance.

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