Breaking Benjamin and Wilson combine to blow away a jam-packed House of Blues in Cleveland.

Like a lot of rockers, I am a big Breaking Benjamin fan. Last Saturday night I took in their final performance of the mini-tour that they were on as they played their way back home to Pennsylvania. They along with their tour mates, Wilson, were coming off their five day stint aboard Shiprocked, which I too, was also a passenger on.

Saturday’s performance was held in front of a sold out crowd at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio. And as the case has been every time that I have been to a Breaking Benjamin show, the performance was outstanding, as was Wilson’s.

I’m not sure how many times that I have actually seen BB on stage, but I can honestly say that I have never seen anything that could remotely be called bad.

“Saturate”, their first album with current label Hollywood Records, got me hooked. My fascination with the group is due directly to the unique and mesmerizing voice of front man, Benjamin Burnley. His vocal range is as clear as a robin’s chirp on a fresh spring morning. He can go from tenor to baritone to deep growls with ease and seemingly does so without missing a beat. He’s also an outstanding work smith with the guitar.

Breaking Benjamin performing at House of Blues in Cleveland. Photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

When seeing any national band in person, I listen with my eyes closed so I can compare the set to what I have playing in my vehicle or home sound system. I’m sure you’ve seen those that come nowhere close to the recorded format you purchase. Breaking Benjamin is definitely an exception to that rule.

My first time seeing Burnley and the gang was at a smaller venue in Toledo, Ohio. I finally had the chance to check them out after rocking out to “Saturate” as well as “We Are Not Alone” and “Phobia”.

I was sick as a dog on this particular occasion but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to witness their live act, especially being just forty-five minutes away. I spent most of the evening in the bathroom for various reasons (I’m sure you understand) until Breaking Benjamin hit the stage.

I stood way in the back of the venue huddled in a corner with a clear path to facilities, just in case. Fortunately things settled down and I was in total amazement as the music wafted overhead. It was as if I was sitting in front of my speakers at home (only on a much larger scale, octave wise).

From that moment on I promised myself that I would never miss another chance to see them. In fact, they are the main reason I have been to all ten years of Rock on the Range. I purchased tickets on line to see them and when I received the tickets in the mail, they were stamped with Rock on the Range. So I owe them for that part of my life, but that’s a story for another day.

As for Saturday night, things began with a one-on-one interview with the bands new bass player and backup vocalist, Aaron Bruch. You can find the content of that short interview in another post.

There wasn’t much hoopla when the PA announcer asked if the audience was ready for Wilson. The five-piece band changed the group’s position following their set.

Front man, Chad Nicefield is as energetic as anyone in that position in today’s rock world. He doesn’t leave anything on the stage as he works the fans up so as to get ready for the “Fuckery” that is about to commence.

Nicefield along with the other four members of the band, Jason Spencer (lead guitar), Kyle Landry (rhythm guitar), Matt Puhy (drums) and James Lascu (bass) have as much fun on the stage as they do off of it, evident by the name of their first album, “Full Blast Fuckery”.

Wilson performing at House of Blues in Cleveland. Photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Wilson’s style is pure in your face rock and roll. Wilson make no excuses about melting your face off and if you don’t like it, they’re going to force feed it to you anyway.

With tunes like ‘College Gangbang’ and ‘My Life My Grave’, Wilson’s reputation as a party band is set in stone. Their following is growing in droves and it will continue to do so for a long time. They released their sophomore album, “Right to Rise”, in 2015 under the Razor & Tie label. It includes the latest hit single ‘Give Em Hell’ as well as ‘Hang With The Devil’.

Do yourself a favor and go out and purchase both CD’s. Get to know the guys and then take in a show. You won’t regret it. Just ask anyone who was in attendance at the HOB on Saturday.

As much as I enjoyed the performance of the boys from Motown, it was now time for Breaking Benjamin. Not only was I ready, but so too was the wall-to-wall throng that covered every inch of the main floor to the balcony.

Once the lights went dark and the band began to take their place on the stage the crowd was ready to erupt. The slow crescendo burst through the roof as Burnley came striding out from stage left with the musical beginning of ‘So Cold’ blaring through the amps.

That fervor continued throughout the set, as once again, Breaking Benjamin was spot on. Whether it was old tunes like ‘So Cold’ or songs from their latest piece “Dark Before Dawn” the band was as close to perfection as you could get, and they had the audience eating out of their hands.

Bruch, Keith Wallen (guitar, backup vocals), Shaun Foist (drums) and Jasen Rauch (guitar) are all new members to the band but there was zero let down with the quartet compared to the previous regime. They were all hand-picked, according to Burnley, and they were absolutely terrific.

Unfortunately, with inclement weather coming through the area and being two-and-a-half hours from home (which ended up being nearly four hours), I had to cut my night short. However the way I see it, a face-to-face with Aaron Bruch, a full set from Wilson and half of a set from Breaking Benjamin at a venue like the House of Blues, was a night well spent. And one that I’d gladly do again, if given the opportunity.

Until next time this is Big L saying ‘keep those horns up and rock on!!  \m/ \m/

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Larry Ritter About Larry Ritter

Hello my name is Larry Ritter, or “Big L” to most of my friends. I’m a production supervisor for a major manufacturer of auto parts here in northwest Ohio. I received an Associate’s degree from Owen’s Community College where I graduated cum laude honors. I have a true passion for music, sports, photography and riding motorcycles. My love for these things are surpassed by just one thing, family, which includes two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.

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