May 17, 2015
Wellmont Theater, Montclair, NJ
Heading to the Montclair’s Welmont Theatre last month to see Breaking Benjamin, I wondered how the band would sound. After the hiatus was announced four years ago, the only news about the band was bad - health problems, line-up changes and lawsuits. Despite releasing two platinum records, one gold record and a number of chart topping singles, all that remained of the original band would be Ben Burnley.
As the band opened with their breakout hit “Cold” it was obvious that Breaking Benjamin was in top form. No longer having to perform all the vocals has made the Burnley even stronger. Back-up vocals by Guitarist Keith Wallen, formerly of Adelitas Way and Aaron Bruch, ex-Forever Oeuvre bassist were a perfect complement to Burnley’s unmistakable voice. Yet another change for the better was the elimination of backing tracks previously used by the band. Extremely talented lead guitarist Jasen Rauch, formerly of Red and ex-Picture Me Broken drummer Shaun Foist played every note themselves with perfection.
Following Cold, the hit songs came in rapid succession to the crowd’s delight. ““Follow”, “Break My Fall”, “Blow Me Away, “Shallow Bay”, and “Give Me A Sign” among others. It was hard to believe the band has been together less than a year. Plans for the 2015 tour began soon after the new line-up was announced and timed to support the new album Dark Before Dawn, set for release on June 23rd. In the middle of the set, the band played the highly successful pre-release single “Failure”. Gauging the crowd’s reaction, it’s not surprising the song rose to number 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts only a few weeks after release.
Well into the show, Burnley paused and began throwing ice cold water bottles to the crowd. This was appreciated as the heat in the Welmont Theater had increased significantly since the start of the show, both figuratively and literally. For those in the front who didn’t get a bottle, he accommodated them by spraying water on the crowd.
Following some brief covers, including a spectacular performance of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the band played “Evil Angel”, “Until the End” and “I Will Not Bow”; returning for an encore to play “Dance with the Devil” and “The Diary of Jane”. Anyone who believes Breaking Benjamin is not the band they used to be is right. Breaking Benjamin is better than ever; both live and on their new album Dark Before Dawn.
Opening for Breaking Benjamin at the Welmont Theater was the band Young Guns. Lead by animated frontman Gustav Wood, the English alternative rock band played songs from their first two albums, including debut single “Bones” that reached number 1 on the Billboard Active Rock Charts. Hoping to repeat their past success, the band is touring in support of their new album Ones and Zeros released June 9th.
Article and Photography By: Glenn Malmberg