October 27, 2014 Breaking Benjamin returns with historic performance The Paramount Huntington, NY 10-25-14
During the summer of 2014, a rather unexpected announcement came down when Hard Rock favorites Breaking Benjamin announced their return via their official Facebook page. Catching fans by surprise and immediately igniting a swirl of excitement, many wondered what would Breaking Benjamin look and sound like after the four year hiatus. Led by songwriter and band creator Benjamin Burnley, the new supporting cast consists of guitarist Keith Wallen (formerly of Adelitas Way), guitarist Jason Rauch (formerly of Red), drummer Shaun Foist (Picture Me Broken), and bassist Aaron Bruch. With fresh faces surrounding, Burnley looks to rejuvenate the band after the long absence and wasted no time hitting the road for a limited eight show stretch performing acoustically to fans. Having stopped throughout the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania region thus far, The Paramount in Huntington, NY was ready to Rock-n-Roll Saturday October 25th with a crowd wrapped around the block.
Those that want to downplay the importance of Breaking Benjamin’s return simply are out of touch because the swarm of energy coming from the sold out venue, before the band even hit the stage, was tremendous. Without the benefit of an opening act, the band took to the stage a little after 8:30 PM, opening with “So Cold” as the bass of Bruch shook the floor. As the house lights briefly lifted, Burnley and the band were taken back by the adrenaline surrounding them, which immediately jump started them into “Follow.” Taking everyone for a ride, their immense sound brought without the benefit of amplification and distortion squashed the idea that this was going to be a mellow evening of stripped down renditions of heavy songs. In fact, Breaking Benjamin’s approach to performing the tracks acoustical was rather unique to those which have taken on the task before and the music translated seamlessly with equal effectiveness. Dedicating the track “Unknown Soldier” to those which serve the citizens of the country so selflessly, the emotions ran high in the moments that followed with deep tracks “Break My Fall,” “Blow Me Away,” and “Water.” Showing ample appreciation for the fans and their support, Burnley tossed guitar picks and even bottles of water to audience members, reaching out any chance he had to grab hands as well.
Keeping the good feelings pouring out, fan favorite “Polyamorous” saw the entire crowd singing along to each word and creating an noise level that could be heard from the street below. Indeed inspiring, the mutual love felt between Burnley and the audience was limitless as he opened himself up performing a stellar cover of Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” Honest and forthcoming, Burnley announced that his wife was watching the show from home and that he will soon be a father. After receiving a warm response from everyone, he went into more well-known Saturate (2002) tracks such as “Natural Life,” “Shallow Bay,” and the Wizard of Oz inspired “Home.” With the complements of backing vocals of Wallen and Bruch providing texture and depth to the music, there were no dull moments for the duration of the set. Wondering if the night could get anymore exhilarating, Breaking Benjamin challenged the notion further with “Breath” which saw Burnley singing like a man on a mission. With distinct inflection to each word sung, he exhibited dedication to the songs and refusal to disappoint the audience every step of the way. Continuing to keep things personal, Burnley took everyone back to his formidably years as a musician and expressed his affection for Alice in Chains by performing a killer cover of “Them Bones.”
Having time on their side, the extra long set seemed to fly by rapidly and allowed Breaking Benjamin to cover plenty of ground as they continued on with others like “I Will Not Bow,” “Until the End,” and a cover of Tool’s “Prison Sex.” Riding high on the cheers and chants, Burnley then did the unthinkable, exiting the stage and walking into the sea of people singing and taking photographs all at the same time through “Evil Angel.” Treating each and everyone as an equal, he shook hands and showed comfort amongst the fans as everyone had a chance to reach out. Truly a magical moment not seen often, this experience added an explosive point in the evening for so many. Returning to the stage a humble man, Burnley and company closed out the set with mega hit “The Diary of Jane.” As the audience screamed for more, even after twenty two songs, the band responded with an encore that began with seldom heard tracks “You” and “Here We Are.” Without a soul exiting until the last note, “Sooner or Later,” and the touching “Rain” closed out the evening on a high note and an affection praise of gratitude was exchanged between the band and their supporters.
The return of Breaking Benjamin is perhaps one of the most pleasant stories of Rock in 2014. Living up to the hype and then-some, the band sounds as tight as ever with no blemishes in the stripped down setting. While this special unplugged run has concluded, the overwhelming response is bound to see Breaking Benjamin on stage again very soon in 2015.