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Linkin Park Sets 2004 Touring Standard

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Linkin Park is flexing some serious box-office muscle on its current Meteora tour, solidifying the band's stature as a major arena-level act.

With strong support from P.O.D., Hoobastank and Story of the Year, Linkin Park is headlining the top hard-music package in the early going of 2004, demonstrating health for the genre and the band's own staying power.

The tour is named after the band's current album, which has sold 3.5 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Meteora tour bodes well for band and its new release. "This is a big-league headlining tour, no question," says Michael Belkin, executive VP of the Midwest region for Clear Channel Entertainment. "There's no gray area here -- this is a home run."

Belkin bases that claim on how well his own dates have performed. The Jan. 21 show at Cleveland's Convocation Center sold out in advance, and a Jan. 25 Columbus, Ohio, concert at Nationwide Arena is "selling at a healthy clip on a daily basis," Belkin says.

The band cut deals with individual promoters in each market, including CCE, Jam Productions and Another Planet. In its best markets, the tour is not just selling out but selling out quickly, exceeding already high expectations.

According to Jim Glancy, executive VP of CCE in New York, Linkin Park's Jan. 18 date at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island sold out in one day in mid-December. "We thought it would be good, and it was fantastic," he says.

That holds true on the West Coast, where Linkin Park will play HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., Feb. 16 and Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 18. Gregg Perloff, promoter of both shows as president of Another Planet, expects two sellouts.

Perloff says Linkin Park's set on Metallica's Summer Sanitarium tour last summer at Candlestick Park in San Francisco was a strong indicator of how well the band could do in his market.

"When they played with Metallica in the stadium show, the audience went wild," Perloff says. "When five acts are playing and you see an act that breaks out like that, it's very exciting, and Linkin Park absolutely did that in front of 50,000 people."

Indeed, the story is not so much that Linkin Park is selling out some large arenas; the band turned that trick on its first album tour in 2002. What's more important is that the band is exhibiting much-valued legs as a touring entity.

"It's nice to see this audience continuing on with unwavering support for this band," Belkin says. "These days, you don't know from album to album what kind of support you'll see ."
Glancy agrees. "This feels like the real deal. We may have a major-arena headliner in this band for years to come."

From the beginning, Linkin Park tapped the benefits of prudent packaging and pricing. The band's debut arena tour, billed as Project Revolution, featured Cypress Hill, Adema and DJ Z-Trip. That trek grossed more than $6 million in just four weeks of dates, with tickets priced at $29.50.

A second Project Revolution tour last spring -- which played mostly secondary markets with Mudvayne, Xzibit and Blindside -- also performed well, though not as strongly as the previous tour.

But this time out, Linkin Park, P.O.D. and Hoobastank are all riding hot albums, and Story of the Year is regarded as a real comer. Even with such a strong lineup, though, the package is priced at $34.50.
The Meteora tour wraps March 6 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. Next up for the band is another Project Revolution tour for the summer, with the package currently being put together. Whether the band will play indoors or out is still being determined.

Linkin Park will stay mostly stateside in 2004, after successfully touring Asia last October - January 17, 2004



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