Returning to the UK after a ten year hiatus, Fort Minor’s sole member and Linkin Park creative force Mike Shinoda was quick to make up for lost time as he burst into Petrified and In Stereo. In an age where bands break up and reform in months, it’s no surprise that the Minor faithful had sold out the show when this intimate return was announced. From the off its clear many had been waiting a long time for this night, singing along and shouting out to their hero, it was hard to tell who was having a better time now it was here, the fans or a beaming Mike. Alone on the stage, with no backdrop to distract, a pacing Shinoda was the rightful centre of attention as X-Ecutioners It’s Going Down, and Dolla were given outings. Used to arenas and festival main stages the frantic crowd didn’t seem to phase the vocalist at all as he hopped between samples, keys and guitar. Comfortable on all, it’s easy to overlook just what a virtuoso the guy is.
Tonight may have been a an evening off from Linkin Park’s Hunting Party Tour for the band’s founding member, but with Waiting For The End/Hands Held High, the set list drew from all of Mike’s archives and was something very much welcomed by those assembled. Explaining how the show was a time not only for music, but stories too, Mike proceeded to explain the racial struggles his family had faced being Japanese in America during WW2. It’s a heartfelt, intimate moment, that cuts the divide between stage and crowd. Powering into Castle Of Glass/Kenji every bar now felt more personal than ever, Mike holding hands with the audience before climbing onto a speaker stack at the side of the stage to finish the track.
Devils Drop, Cigarettes and Until It Breaks continue the set, before the hit Where’d You Go leads one of the evenings biggest sing along’s, Mike grinning back for its entirety. High Road and Believe Me bring the set to a close in a room so busy the doors literally haven’t been able to be closed all night.
As the chants for Shinoda grew he returned to the stage once more, deviating from the set list to have some fun. There They Go and A Place For my Head were free-styled and flowed over a sample of The Funky Drummer Beat effortlessly, much to the crowd’s delight.
It’s then time for new single Welcome, with Shinoda proving he hasn’t lost any of his talent for writing in his time away. Arguably the track, which was accompanied by a unique 360 degree video online, is some of his best material yet. With its church organ hook, it’s both upbeat and catchy as hell. The lyrics may see Shinoda explain that he doesn’t care if people like his new music or not, but judging by the reaction in this room, that won’t be a problem. If its the shape of things to come, Fort Minor is looking very healthy indeed.
Closing the night on international smash Remember The Name, Mike finishes in his prime and with the crowd matching him word-for-word. Tonight may have been a long time in the making, but it made Fort Minor’s return even more special. With rumours of a new album on the horizon, it’ll be very interesting to see where this new chapter for Shinoda’s side project takes him.