Bullet For My Valentine, Breaking Benjamin, Avenged Sevenfold
February 8th, 2018
Pinnacle Bank Arena
The Stage Tour 2018
Breaking Benjamin has had such an incredible impact on my life. It’s often easy to forget how much of an inspiration Ben Burnley is to me and so many other fans. A bitterly cold February night in Lincoln, Nebraska turned out to be exactly what thousands of people needed to deal with the stress of our daily lives.
My first time seeing Breaking Benjamin live was during their opening slot for Evanescence’s 2003 World Domination tour. Along for the ride were Seether, and another new band; Three Days Grace. Since that hot July night, I would have the chance to catch the band a handful of times touring alongside the likes of Staind, Three Days Grace, and Flyleaf. Each of the 7 performances I was fortunate enough to attend was an incredible experience. It didn’t matter if it was an opening slot, or a headlining gig, this band is spectacular. Then their untimely hiatus in 2010, after the release of their 4th studio album, Dear Agony, left many of us wondered if we’d ever again hear Ben Burnley’s voice on stage. Thankfully, after a few years, Burnley reformed Breaking Benjamin, new music was released and the band hit the road for their first tour in almost 4 years.
Heading out with Avenged Sevenfold for The Stage tour wasn’t something that a lot of fans expected, but it would serve as the perfect reminder just how brutally heavy Breaking Benjamin are as a live band.
Bringing two heavy-hitting bands to The Pinnacle Bank Arena, even on a cold Thursday night in February, meant the arena was nearly packed to capacity. Tickets had almost sold out.
After Bullet For My Valentine primed the crowd, Breaking Benjamin were ready to take the stage.
Opening with So Cold, the platinum certified hit from their 2004 release We Are Not Alone, the band effortlessly transitioned into Angels Fall, from 2015’s Dark Before Dawn comeback album. The massive backdrop, covering nearly the entire length of the stage, depicted the album cover for the band’s upcoming Ember release. The stage lights shifting from red to blue to purple to green gave the emblazoned eye an almost 3D effect.
Guitarist Keith Wallen took over vocal duties for Sooner or Later, allowing founder Ben Burnley pace the stage and incite cheers from the crowd. Burnley took back vocals from Blow Me Away, a track he had written for the Halo 2 Original Soundtrack and found in its remix state on Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin.
Ominous red lights drown the arena for the sonic brutality of Red Cold River. Drummer Shaun Foist thrashed about like a madman, never losing the wicked smirk on his face. Even with the track having been released a short while ago, the crowd had a brilliant reaction to the song. Burnley’s guttural growls pushed the standing-room-only floor past the point of thrashing around.
Thousands of voices lifted in unity as the band transitioned to Never Again, then Failure, but reached a momentous peak for Breath.
After a brief break, Burnley asked if there were any nerds in the crowd, and how many of them collected action figures. Burnley made it no secret that he’s an action figure collector and self-proclaimed Star Wars nerd.
“Anyone else go shopping with their girlfriends or wives and spend more time in the toy aisle? And who here loves Star Wars?”
Burnley then stepped to the front of the stage and produced a Light Saber.
“Me,” he said, igniting the red blade, “I’ve joined the Dark Side.”
The band’s covers medley not only included Burnley on a wicked drumkit decorated with red Light Sabers which he played during The Imperial March from the Star Wars Sage, but Tools’ Schism, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and Panter’s Walk. While the band played the music, it was the fans who kept the vocals tight.
I Will Not Bow followed and again several thousand fans provided the backing vocals.
As the band played the Intro to their 2006 release, Phobia, bassist Aaron Bruch pointed out someone in the crowd to Burnley. A group of kids were standing off at stage left, and Burnley asked if this was their first show. It was.
For their final performance of the evening, Burnley invited the young fans on stage for The Diary of Jane. How cool is that? Their first concert, and they get to hop on stage and sing with a band in front of a few thousand people? Way to raise the bar, Ben!
I’ve seen hundreds of bands on stage during my time on this Earth. Few of them continue to provide such an incredible live show, especially into their second decade. Despite having the flu, Burnley once again raised the bar on not only what a Breaking Benjamin show is, but what a live concert experience should be. And after hearing Red Cold River, I’m beyond excited to hear more of the band’s new material played live.
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
Red Cold River
The Imperial March / Schism (TOOL) / Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) / Walk (Pantera)
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane