Concert Review – Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/08/2016)

The city of Toronto got awesomely “infected” by David Draiman and his horde on a warm and beautiful night of alternative music.

OPENING ACTS: Saint Asonia and Alter Bridge

Disturbed_Breaking Benjamin_2016Due to my hectic working schedule yesterday and the distance from my place to the fantastic Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, I wasn’t able to see the performances by the two special guests of the night, Canadian Nu Metal/Hard Rock band SAINT ASONIA and American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band ALTER BRIDGE. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to watch Saint Asonia, despite the fact they’re portrayed as a “supergroup” based in Toronto formed by lead singer and guitarist  Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace), lead guitarist Mike Mushok (ex-Staind), bassist Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo) and drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven). I’m not sure how many people were actually able to watch their concert, nor if they were a good warm-up for the following bands. All I can say is that the music they play is not my cup of tea and I don’t really regret missing their performance.

What I do feel slightly sad about was missing the excellent singer Myles Kennedy and the talented guitarist Mark Tremonti (together with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) playing their straightforward and honest rock music with Alter Bridge. We all know Myles and Mark are awesome musicians, and even considering the music by this Orlando-based group a bit too soft for me I’m sure that might have been a kick-ass concert. Well, that’s the price to pay when there are too many bands in such a short period of time, fans end up missing a good chunk of what they paid for unless they arrive REALLY early to the venue, which was not the case for most fans last night.

BREAKING BENJAMIN

IMG_1585The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre got packed only a few minutes before American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band BREAKING BENJAMIN began their show, with frontman and guitarist Benjamin Burnley leading his competent band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania formed by Jasen Rauch on lead guitars, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass and Shaun Foist on drums. The band got back in action a couple of years ago after Benjamin was finally able to overcome his phobias and addictions, with all members being completely new to the band (except for Benjamin, of course), and based on the warm reaction from everyone at the venue I believe fans truly missed Benjamin’s melodious mix of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock during the band’s hiatus.

As a fan of the darkest side of music who’s always listening to the most visceral forms of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, I must admit their music didn’t excite me despite being extremely well-crafted and played to perfection by all band members. Except for the brief moments when they played an excerpt of the superb Walk, by one of my favorite bands of all time, Pantera, as well as another excerpt from the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, I couldn’t really connect to the band’s music. One thing I enjoyed a lot though was the vocal range by Aaron, going from clean and melodic lines to furious growls whenever he was responsible for the vocal parts, and for me that was the best ingredient of their concert. Please don’t think I hate Breaking Benjamin with all my strength or that it was a horrible concert, let’s simply say it’s hard to pay some decent attention to a band you’re not a fan of their music or style when you’re anxious for the following act.

Setlist
So Cold
Angels Fall
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
The Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
Polyamorous
Ashes of Eden
Believe
Breath
Failure
Until the End
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane

Band members
Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jasen Rauch – lead guitar, electronic strings, programming
Keith Wallen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Aaron Bruch – bass, backing vocals
Shaun Foist – drums, electronic percussion, programming

DISTURBED

IMG_1592Only one day after playing at Heavy Montréal, Mr. David Draiman and his Alternative Metal horde DISTURBED hit the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to do what they do best, which is playing electrifying razor-edged modern metal music. Still promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (which by the way was awarded gold in Canada as well as platinum to the single The Sound of Silence, as informed by Draiman during the show), this iconic band from Chicago, Illinois not only revolutionized music with their inception back in the 90’s, but they also keep bringing different generations to their live concerts like what happened yesterday, something only traditional bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica do nowadays.

Blending classics such as the opening song Ten Thousand Fists and the classy Stricken with new songs like the kick-ass The Vengeful One, Draiman and his crew conquered all from the very first notes of their powerful performance. Draiman might not be moving around like before, but it looks like that’s a task he’s leaving for guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and especially bassist John Moyer to do, with those three guys being unstoppable on stage while Draiman focused on his unparalleled vocals (including his classic “monkey screams”) and leading gestures. They even invited the guys from Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to sing the classic Who Taught You How to Hate with them, although it felt a bit weird seeing two bass players on stage at the same time.

IMG_1602One of the most anticipated moments of the show was their beautiful version for Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, and I have to say that lived up to all expectations and beyond. The drumming by Mike was incredible, as if he was pounding our hearts, and the piano notes embellished the entire ambience, but of course the main ingredient in such a unique ballad were Draiman’s vocals. He sang each and every note to perfection together with the fans, a memorable moment in a warm Torontonian night that will stay fresh in our minds and hearts for many years to come. Another great example of how Draiman flawlessly captivated and commanded the audience throughout the whole gig occurred during their new song called The Light, where he asked everyone to raise their lighters and mobiles during the chorus of the song and every single person obviously attended his demand, creating a sensational view of brilliant dots all over the venue.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short, with only fourteen songs being played in total. They could have played a few more tunes like the title-track “Immortalized” or even their version for “Land of Confusion”, which has been part of their recent setlists. Anyway, the icing on the cake came in the form of their biggest hit Down With the Sickness, with all fans jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics together with Draiman, especially the ones in the floor section like myself. The heat of the fire coming from the stage might have been strong, but the heat coming from their music was even stronger, leaving all fans happier than usual on a Monday night on their way back home. When introducing Down With the Sickness, Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music. I can’t think of a better definition to their concert than that.

Setlist
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
The Vengeful One
Prayer
Liberate
Who Taught You How to Hate
Stupify
The Sound of Silence
Inside the Fire
The Light
Stricken
Indestructible
Voices
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

Concert Review – Trivium & Tremonti (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 09/22/2015)

There might be silence in the snow during this coming winter, but there was surely a lot of good noise and blazing hearts on the last night of the summer in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Wilson

harddriveradiotourupdated2015Unfortunately, due to traffic and working issues, I cannot say anything about the performance by American Hard Rock/Rock N’ Roll band WILSON, who were in charge of warming up the crowd for the main attractions of the night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre as part of the 2015 HardDrive Live Tour. All I can say is that if you’re curious to know how their music sounds, two very good songs are Give ‘Em Hell and College Gangbang, both part of their setlist. And, in addition, in case your first or last name is “Wilson” I suggest you go after their merchandise right away. Who wouldn’t love to have your own name on a cool T-shirt like this one? Maybe next time they’re around I’ll go check their live performances, but this time the Gardiner didn’t allow me to do so.

Setlist
Before I Burn
Give ‘Em Hell
College Gangbang
Waiting on the World to Cave In
Windows Down
All My Friends
Right to Rise
Susan Jane

Band members
Chad Nicefield – vocals
Jason Spencer – guitar
Kyle Landry – guitar
James Lascu – bass
Puhy – drums

TREMONTI

IMG_0675For those of you who don’t know this excellent guitarist, award-winning American musician MARK TREMONTI is the lead guitarist and founding member of the famous rock groups Creed and Alter Bridge, and since 2012 he’s been on the road with his solo project that takes his last name, being also responsible for the band’s lead vocals. And that’s probably the main reason why there were so many people eager to see Tremonti, I would say almost the same amount that were at the venue to see Trivium, because not only his music is clean and cohesive, but also fun.

Playing a mix of Hard Rock, Rock N’ Roll, Speed Metal and Alternative Metal, this Detroit-based band did a pretty good job during their relatively lengthy setlist, which ended up extending their concert to past 10pm and therefore “forcing” some people to go home before Trivium started due to different reasons, such as work or classes the next morning. I’ll be 100% honest and say that their music is not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed their performance as much as I could while having a cold Rolling Rock. Perhaps the biggest issue with the concert was the huge amount of ballads, because when they played heavier stuff you could feel a much stronger reaction from everyone at the venue.

I’m not familiar with the names of the songs either, but if there were two that caught my attention were curiously the very first, Cauterize, and the very last, Decay, due to their strength and speed. In other words, if you’re more into old school metal music (including really heavy stuff like Death and Black Metal) like I am you might consider Tremonti a bit too light for your taste, but as a straightforward rock band they more than deliver it on stage.

Setlist
Cauterize
You Waste Your Time
All I Was
So You’re Afraid
Another Heart
Flying Monkeys
The Things I’ve Seen
Radical Change
Tie the Noose
Dark Trip
Arm Yourself
Brains
Wish You Well
Decay

Band members
Mark Tremonti – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Eric Friedman – lead and rhythm, backing vocals
Tanner Keegan – bass guitar, backing vocals
Garrett Whitlock – drums

TRIVIUM

IMG_0683After a short pause to the sound of the entire Ace Of Spades album, by Motörhead, lights went down and like many bands do, the speakers played a classic song TRIVIUM truly love to ignite the hearts of the fans waiting for their performance. Well, they chose the all-time battle hymn “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden for that. Do I need to say more? After that brilliant demonstration of passion for metal music and after their own intro Snøfall, our already iconic and influential Orlando-based metallers hit the stage between two giant skulls from their new album with one of their brand new songs, the good Silence in the Snow. Matt was electrified as usual, wearing a Dio T-shirt and an Emperor vest, again showing his respect and admiration for his idols in music and his loyalty to his roots, while Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Mat Madiro interacted with the fans as much as possible during and between songs to make things even better.

I know some people are complaining Matt doesn’t want to scream anymore, but all three new songs (Silence in the Snow, Until the World Goes Cold and especially Blind Leading the Blind, which Matt dedicated to the unparalleled Ronnie James Dio while telling a story about food and friendship when they opened for Heaven & Hell in Japan in 2007) sounded truly powerful live, proving the harsh screams are not really necessary for them to work. However, as an old school metalhead I have to say it was when they played their classic assaults Throes of Perdition, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr and A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation that things got really serious inside the mosh pits. Moreover, although Corey was incredible with his guitar, I think he seemed a little “lost” during the songs without the harsh screams. Let the guy scream, please!

IMG_0695And I was impressed (actually, the whole band was too) with the insane reaction of the crowd for each and every song of their setlist, in special their “newer” classics Strife (including a loud and awesome “Oh-oh-oh… Oooooh!” to its Iron Maiden-ish riffs, as demanded by Matt), Built to Fall (what a “built-to-fall” image seeing everybody singing the whole song at full force with Trivium!) and Black, showcasing how thrilling In Waves and Vengeance Falls are despite some diehard fans not digging those albums. Not to mention the amazing turmoil caused by the fans during the superb duo Capsizing the Sea/In Waves, which started with a decent wall of death just for you to have an idea of how crazy fans were. The band noticed that, enjoyed that and acknowledged that on their social media, saying Toronto was the best crowd of the entire tour. I have to agree with them, it was indeed a fantastic night, much better than their last concert back in 2013 at the same venue.

IMG_0687And in order to keep us all craving for more Trivium and more metallic tunes, the sound system played the masterpiece “Heaven & Hell” by Black Sabbath, which was sung by most fans so excited everybody got after Trivium finished their flawless performance. Now let’s wait and see how their entire new album sounds like, if there won’t be any screams at all or if they’ll still offer us some harsher moments like the ones we learned to love from their music. It might have been the last night of summer in Toronto, but it was more than enough to keep our hearts on fire through the fall and the winter, even if there’s total silence in the snow that’s about to come soon.

Setlist
Snøfall
Silence in the Snow
Down from the Sky
Becoming the Dragon
Strife
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Built to Fall
Until the World Goes Cold
Throes of Perdition
Anthem (We Are the Fire)
Black
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Blind Leading the Blind
Dying in Your Arms

Encore:
Capsizing The Sea
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – guitar, lead vocals
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass, vocals
Mat Madiro – drums