Written By Nathan Holt
Photo By Nathan Holt
The Breaking Benjamin show at The Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, Michigan sold out very quickly. It’s hard to believe that most fans were unsure of the band’s fate after a brief hiatus a few years ago. When there were a few sightings of lead singer Benjamin Burnley playing acoustically, fans began to have a glimpse of hope for a reformation of Breaking Benjamin. Well, the wait is over. The band has emerged from its hiatus with Ben at its head and a few new faces filling in the vacancies: Aaron Bruch, Shaun Foist, Jasen Rauch and Keith Wallen. With new bandmates and only a handful of shows as a band so far, how will they compare to everyone’s previous expectations?
The British band Young Guns, who were the only support act of the night, got the crowd moving with their first song “I Want Out.” They also played their songs “Rising Up,” Stitches,” “Towers (On My Way),” “Daylight,” among others. This was their second to last show with Breaking Benjamin and they asked the crowd to make it a memorable one for them. They also mentioned that when they get off stage they’re going to be joining the crowd in watching the show and drinking some beers, so come say hello. After the song “You Are Not (Lonely),” lead singer Gustav Wood addressed the crowd one last time:
“You guys are all right. Thank you for making us feel welcome, we’re Young Guns. We’re a long way from home and it feels great to be with you this evening. One more song from us and we’re out. I know it’s the middle of the week, but let’s see a little chaos! Here’s our last song, Bones!”
After a brief intermission between bands, the lights went dark and the opening chords for Breaking Benjamin’s first song of the night “So Cold” rang out. The crowd began to raise their voices, culminating into a monstrously loud cheer as lead singer Ben asked the crowd “Are you ready?” Everyone seemed to agree and sing along with every lyric, including the next two songs “Follow” and “Break My Fall.”
Ben then took a second to talk to the audience: “Grand Rapids, what’s up everybody? I want to say how amazing it is that you all came here and joined us this evening, thank you so much. It’s awesome to be back here. I remember being here a long time ago, like in 2002 was the first time ever. And we came back in 2004 and then in 2006 and you guys get better and better every goddamn time. I want to take this time to send this next song out to the men and women that bravely serve this great country of ours.” A chant of U-S-A began from the crowd as the band began “Unknown Soldier.”
After the next song, “Blow Me Away,” Ben thanked local radio station 97.9 WGRD for constantly playing the new single and for airing some great music around here. They then played a new song “Failure” from their upcoming album Dark Before Dawn. Everyone seemed familiar with it, singing along, but surprisingly the band didn’t further promote the album’s upcoming release on June 23rd. If interested, you can preorder it on iTunes, Google Play or Amazon Music.
The newest members of Breaking Benjamin did an excellent job performing all the songs and also interacting with the crowd. They flawlessly pulled off “Breath,” “Phase” and “Away” which happened to be the next couple of songs. Then Ben dedicated the next song out to “all of your who have been with us for all these years. It’s a gift and it’s you guys that make this worthwhile, thank you so much.” It was the song “Shallow Bay” off their very first album, Saturate.
Afterwards, they performed “Give Me a Sign” and immediately launched into a great cover of Metallica’s “Through The Never.” Sneaking in one of their oldest songs “Polyamorous,” they then went back to doing some more covers. “This one is for the empire” Ben told the crowd as they began to play “The Imperial March” theme from Star Wars. This was followed by a short medley of covers that included Tool’s “Schism,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Walk” by Pantera.
Ben noticed how much fun the crowd was having, but also how exhausted some of the crowd looked: “We’re up here sweating our asses off, which only means one thing. You guys are out there sweating your asses off ten times as hard, so I’m going to give you some water.” Ben went down to the barricade and began to pour water out for people near the front of the floor. The band meanwhile looped the beginning of the next song, “Evil Angel.”
After that and playing the next song “Until the End,” the band appeared to wrap up the show with “I Will Not Bow” after they had praised their crew, Young Guns for opening and the crowd most of all for coming tonight. After finishing the song and leaving the stage, the crowd loudly chanted “one more song” in hopes for Breaking Benjamin to return to the stage. The band answered the call by returning to the stage for an encore of “Dance with the Devil.”
Ben then took a moment to address the crowd as the band repeated the “Intro” track off of the album Phobia:
“Grand Rapids, Michigan! I cannot tell you honestly how great a crowd you were tonight. This show is going down in history right now, right here and right now. Breaking Benjamin is going to remember this and we cannot wait to come back again. We had an amazing time, you guys know how to rock!” Ben then rounded off the show with a motivational speech about the crowd being there for each other and for everyone to have a great rest of the night. With that, they jumped into “The Diary of Jane,” which was the final song of the evening.
One thing was sure by the end of the night: No matter the view from where you stood during the show or how big of a fan you are, Breaking Benjamin is back and they sound as great as they ever have.