Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Bad Wolves, From Ashes to New
November 21st, 2018
Pinnacle Bank Arena
I’ve been going to concerts for a very long time. I’ve seen hundreds of bands, and thousands of live performances. Shows like this though remind me of why I am, like so many others, addicted to live music. Tonight’s show wasn’t just a concert, it was a reunion of sorts, a reminder as to why several thousand fans would gather on a cold evening, the night before Thanksgiving.
This tour’s line-up proved that rock is not dead. Opening tonight’s set, From Ashes to New, even though a relatively newer band, know exactly how to pump up a crowd. The future is now for these four men, and they’re taking nothing for granted. The band focused their set on their current release, The Future, and used their time on stage to drive the crowd into a frenzy. It was great to hear so many voices united to sing along with the band during their performance of their chart topping single Crazy, and their homage to the late Chester Bennington for their cover of Linkin Park’s Heavy / Papercut.
Super group Bad Wolves took From Ashes to New’s high energy and pushed the crowd even further. The individual members of Bad Wolves have nearly a century of combined experience between them, and these guys know how to trash a crowd. Vocalist Tommy Vext wasn’t all about the moshing though. Vext had a special message to deliver before “Better the Devil.” Vext’s heartfelt speech touched on his own past troubles dealing with an overcoming drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and mental illness that lead to an attempted suicide. We may be at a rock show, but tonight’s message was about family and unity.
Regardless that these guys perfectly define the term “Super Group”, Bad Wolves know how to put on one helluva live show, and actually give a fuck about their fans.
There are very few bands still touring today that I can honestly say I have followed since the beginning of their careers. Breaking Benjamin, and Five Finger Death Punch are two of those bands.
The rally cry of a 1000 Spartan’s heralded the return of Five Finger Death Punch to Nebraska before the curtain dropped and all Hell broke loose.
It’s been just over a decade since I first saw Five Finger Death Punch’s on stage. The band made their national touring debut on the 2007 Family Values tour and were one of the best bands to thrash the tour’s second stage. Even though these men had less than a dozen live shows under their belt by the time I had seen their stage performance, there was an exceptional level of showmanship already shown.
11 years, 7 albums, a line-up change, and much drama later, 5FDP have solidified their position as one of the best live bands currently touring, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Even with a broken foot, vocalist Ivan Moody dominated the stage. Being a co-headlining tour meant that both Five Finger Death Punch, and Breaking Benjamin would each put on a headlining set, something that rarely happens now-a-days. During 5FDP’s 14 song set, there was a definite feeling of inclusiveness from the crowd. I expected a lot of moshing, but the fans were too busy actually enjoying the show and singing along with every word to be bothered with the pathetic version of millennial moshing that happened during Bad Wolves’ set.
5FDP weren’t all about the aggressive side of their music though. The band shifted gears midway through their set with acoustic versions of “Wrong Side of Heaven” and “Remember Everything.” Center stage with guitarist Jason Hook, Moody showed a humorous side by singing snippets of “Sweet Home Alabama”, and “Stairway to Heaven”. Unprompted, the crowd took it upon themselves to light the arena with their cellphones during an incredibly intense rendition of “Remember Everything”.
After letting us catch our collective breath, the band ended their set with some of their heaviest material, but not before Moody made sure we all knew how much the band appreciates their fans. But it wasn’t just Moody that expressed his gratitude. Bassist Chris Kael flirted with the fans pressed against the barricade during the entire set, and founder and guitarist Zolton Bathory tossed several dozen guitar pics into the crowd.
With their “And Justice for None” tour, Five Finger Death Punch took our concert experience to the next level. If only more bands took a page out of their tour book.
It has been just over 15 years since I first saw Ben Burnley on stage when Breaking Benjamin opened for Three Days Grace, Seether, and Evanescence. After a short hiatus, and backing band line-up change, Burnley returned to his musical roots with a vengeance.
“The reactions to this tour from both of our fan bases have been huge, so it only made sense to keep the fun going this fall,” Breaking Benjamin’s front man Ben Burley said recently to antimusic.com. “We’re happy to have a chance to play more songs from Ember while reminding the world that rock’s not dead.”
Breaking Benjamin are one of those bands that I cannot speak highly enough of. No matter their iteration, the band has consistently released top-notch albums, and executed brilliant stage shows. Prior to the band’s 2014 reformation, there was always a sense of professionalism, but there seemed to be a lack of enjoyment towards the end of 2009 and into 2010 before their hiatus. The band’s live shows have only gotten better since Burnley reformed the band back in 2014. Specifically, the addition of bassist Aaron Bruch, and guitarist Jasen Rauch breathed new life into the band. Their live shows no longer rely on pre-recorded backing vocals for three-part harmonies and the vocals layers that the band has become known for on their studio albums.
For this leg of the “Ember” Tour, Breaking Benjamin chose their fan favorite tracks to play live. Burnley admitted that he was still feeling under the weather, recuperating from another severe cold, but wasn’t going to let that stop him or the band from playing.
Several times over the past few years, Burnley has said he’s still extremely sick, and his previous excessive drinking is likely the cause. The rocker recently revealed that doctors are stumped by his chronic condition that continues to leave him in intense pain.
“Ten years ago,” he told the crowd, “I would have not played. I would have been too self-conscience to play for you all. But now I realized that we’re all human and it’s ok to not be perfect.”
No matter what the reasons may be, we’re all grateful that the man continues to tour, and it is ok that he isn’t feeling 100%. We pass no judgement on him. There will always be a few thousand fans at each show that knew the words to every song and screamed the lyrics until the rafters shake.
There are a few shows left before the bands take their holiday break, so make sure to catch this blistering concert when it rolls through your city.
November 29 – Oklahoma City, OK – Chesapeake Energy Arena ****
December 1 – North Little Rock, AR – Verizon Arena ****
December 3 – Biloxi, MS – Mississippi Coast Coliseum ****
December 7 – Fayetteville, NC – Crown Coliseum ****
December 8 – Huntington, WV – Big Sandy Superstore Arena ****
December 10 – Albany, NY – Times Union Center ****
December 11 – Portland, ME – Cross Insurance Arena ****
**** special guests In Flames, From Ashes To New