Breaking Benjamin & Bush astonished attendees with intimate opening sets and dazzling stage designs
It’s been 3 years since Alice in Chains last took the stage. While the world may have been going to shit during that time, there are few sights that can assuage those bad vibes better than a band that pioneered the grunge and alt rock scenes.
Freedom Mortgage Pavilion hosted the 2nd stop of a 30 leg US Tour that Alice in Chains embarked on this week. With immaculate opening sets from Bush and Breaking Benjamin, the entire evening was filled with true artistry from all 3 groups.
I can confirm with unwavering confidence that Gavin Rossdale does in fact still have it. Bush has long been a personal favorite and a band I’ve always looked forward to seeing live. Mixing a blend of new productions and Sixteen Stone classics, Bush certainly set the tone for the rest of the evening.
‘Machinehead’ highlighted the early portion of the set while ‘Glycerine’ and ‘Comedown’ closed things out. However, it was ‘Flowers on a Grave’ that provided the most memorable moment. I’ve heard that Gavin Rossdale has a habit of going out in the crowd, but wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, he meandered his way from the stage, all the way to the furthest corner of the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion lawn. Unfazed, Gavin Rossdale continued to sing and shower praise unto the screaming faithful. That my friends, is a rock star.
While it may not be the same lineup that set out from Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1999, this iteration of Breaking Benjamin certainly knows how to put on a show. From the setlist to the stage design, everything was perfectly crafted to ensure attendees are wafting in waves of wonder and nostalgia.
Opening with ‘Blow Me Away’ and jamming through ‘Tourniquet’ and ‘Polyamorous’, the set slowed down for a cover of Queen’s ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’. Frontman and founder Benjamin Burnley spoke softly and lovingly as he welcomed his son onstage with the band.
Burnley shared anecdotes about Alice in Chains being his first concert and how much Sixteen Stone influenced him as a young artist before wrapping the set up with ‘I Will Not Bow’ and ‘The Diary of Jane’. It was a wonderful moment of introspection and intimacy.
Alice In Chains
I’ll be honest, I listen to Alice In Chains’ MTV Unplugged set weekly. It’s one of my most prized vinyl records and a true live recording masterpiece. The dynamic that William DuVall brings to the group is essential as he doesn’t try to replicate Layne Staley’s style. Instead, he brings his own specific sound to the incredible catalog that AIC offers.
The set started with a blend of a few pre-millenium tracks – ‘Again’, ‘Grind’, and ‘Them Bones’. The DuVall fronted ‘Check My Brain’ and ‘Hollow’ followed.
By the time the midway point of the set rolled around, you knew you were in for a treat in the second half. Next up was ‘Angry Chair’, followed by a raucous ‘Man In The Box’ and ‘Rainier Fog’. The closing trio of ‘Your Decision’, ‘Would?’, and ‘Rooster’ capped off a set 3 years in the making.
Friday night featured frontmen wading through a sea of fans, pyrotechnics, and selections from three absolutely adored bands. Bush set the tone, Breaking Benjamin took it to the next level, and Alice in Chains blew the lid off the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion. All told, it was one of my favorite shows this summer.