The emotions were overwhelming in a fitting farewell to much-loved performer, says our man on the scene.
The memorials start even before you get to the Hollywood Bowl. On the freeway off-ramp, there are kids going car to car in the crawling traffic selling somber black T-shirts bearing the legend: ‘Chester Bennington 1976-2017’.
Those dates, just 41 years apart, serve as a reminder of just how dangerous we are to ourselves. Chester took his own life, as so many others do. In Britain, suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under 45.
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Chester touched a lot of lives in his too-few years. Climbing the hill towards the entrance to the Bowl, the longest queue is not to get inside but to get to the memorial wall erected near the gates, where fans are signing their names and leaving messages about the impact the Linkin Park singer had on their lives.
It is difficult to get a handle on the tenor of the night. At times the fans are exuberant, sharing happy memories or marvelling at the long journeys people have made to be here. Other times emotions run high. The opening act DJ Z-Trip chokes on tears as he introduces his final tune ‘Walking Dead’, a song that he and Chester collaborated on. It is the first time in the evening Chester’s voice echoes around the Bowl, but not the last.
When Linkin Park appear, greeted by the roar of the capacity 17,500-strong crowd and watched by many more on computer screens and phones around the world, they are fittingly melancholy. With Mike Shinoda centre stage and playing piano, they open with a medley of ‘Robot Boy’, ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Iridescent’ which segues into ‘Roads Untraveled’, culminating in the poignant final line: “If you need a friend, there’s a seat here alongside…