Disturbed/Breaking Benjamin/Alter Bridge/Saint Asonia in Concord, Ca

Disturbed/Breaking Benjamin/Alter Bridge/Saint Asonia
Concord Pavilion, Concord, CA
August 19, 2016

By Dan Wall

Disturbed Set List:
Ten Thousand Fists, The Game, The Vengeful One, Prayer, Liberate, The Infection, Stupify, The Sound of Silence, Inside the Fire, The Light, Stricken, Inside the Fire, Voices, Down With the Sickness.
1 hour 10, minutes.

Breaking Benjamin Set List:
So Cold, Angel’s Fall, Sooner or Later, Blow Me Away, The Imperial March/Schism/Smells Like Teen Spirit/Walk, Polyamorous, Ashes of Eden, Believe, Breath, Failure, I Will Not Bow, Until The End, The Diary of Jane. 1 hour.

Alter Bridge Set List:
Isolation, Ties That Bind, Farther Than The Sun, Come To Life, Metalingus, Blackbird, Rise Today. 35 minutes.

Saint Asonia Set List:
Fairy Tale, King of Nothing, Dying Slowly, Just Like You, I Hate Everything About You, Better Place, Let Me Live My Life. 30 minutes.

Aside from the metallic warrior look that Disturbed likes to trot out onstage, not one band that played at the Concord Pavilion on August 19 really looked like an old-time classic rock band. That once mattered here because the Concord Pavilion was home to hundreds of classic rock shows from 1976 into the 2000’s. Everyone who was anyone in that era has played here, and it’s been a long time since a group of bands that play real rock music have turned up here at all-I haven’t been to this place in nearly three years.

With that in mind, it did not seem to matter if Aerosmith and KISS were here or not, because Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Alter Bridge and Saint Asonia put on one of the best live rock shows I’ve seen in quite a while. And the near sold-out crowd was not just young rockers (and it really shouldn’t be since Disturbed has been around for 17 years now)-there were heavy metal kids, middle aged rockers who once frequented the place and everyone in between. It didn’t seem to matter to the crowd gathered here what the bands wore, or how many guitar solos were trotted out, or when the band’s first album was released. They just came to rock!

Saint Asonia opened the show with a 30-minute set of classic modern rock (hey, there’s a term for this newer stuff) that sounded like a mix of Three Days Grace and Staind. Oh, that was former 3DG vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Adam Gontier and current (the band is on hiatus) Staind guitarist Mike Mushok up there hammering away, joined by bassist Corey Lowery (Stuck Mojo, Stereomud, Eye Empire) and drummer Rich Beddoe (Finger Eleven) in a supergroup that deserved far more stage time than it was allotted here. The band played seven songs, five from its debut album and two 3DG songs (“Just Like You” and “I Hate Everything About You”) that went down a storm with the early-arriving crowd.

Funny, but the band that comes across as the closest thing to a classic rock band on this bill was just a bit out of place. Alter Bridge is by far the most musically-inclined of the bands here, with guitarist Mark Tremonti shredding on guitar (he played more solos tonight than most of these bands have ever recorded), while drummer Scott Phillips and bassist Brian Marshall slug it out behind Tremonti’s massive riffing. This might sound like a great musical force, and to me it is, but there might have been a few too many solos (making the songs that much longer) for a crowd that depends on four-minute bursts of melodic melancholy. For those of you looking for more than following along with the other three guys from Creed, than vocalist Myles Kennedy is your ticket. Kennedy’s high-pitched vocals carry the sound on songs like “Ties That Bind,” “Isolation” and “Rise Today,” with the veteran singer showing why he is in such demand (he also sings in Slash’s solo band, as you might know). The group has a new album coming out in October, and with Slash making millions with his old buddies, it might be time for Kennedy to focus on Alter Bridge for the foreseeable future.

Breaking Benjamin is one of those faceless modern rock bands that everyone loves (the band has released 13 Top 20 singles and sold more than five million records of melodic modern rock that slides in nicely alongside Shinedown and Seether). So faceless, in fact, that besides vocalist and chief songwriter Benjamin Burnley, the entire band that started with him back in 1999 has been recently replaced with a whole new group. And guess what-it doesn’t even matter. The crowd reaction here was similar to one a superstar act receives, and the quintet didn’t disappoint the thousands gathered. Burley’s personality, presence and songwriting prowess dominate all of the bands records and live shows, and he could be up there with just about anyone and slay the place. It’s not that his current band is bad; far from it. But Burnley runs the show, writes the songs, sings most of them and is the band’s star. It doesn’t hurt to have a catalog of songs like “So Cold,” “I Will Not Bow,” “Polyamorous,” “Until The End” and “The Diary of Jane,” songs that most of you have heard on a modern rock station and have always wondered-“who sings that song?” Well now you know.

It’s great to have Disturbed back, and the Chicago-based quartet has returned to the live stage after a five-year hiatus with a blistering 70-minute show that features 14 of its best songs, aided by tremendous lighting and pyro. Enough pyro in fact, I have to wonder if they’ve left any for KISS.

Interestingly, I had the privilege of seeing the band on its club tour back in March to stretch out its legs after the long break, and the group used nothing but lights and a backdrop. That was a great show, as was this one, proving this is a band that can knock it out of the park in a club setting and as a headliner in a larger venue.

Vocalist David Draiman was his usual forceful self, his staccato vocals powering each of the 14 songs performed. Draiman prowls the stage like a predator, careful to include each and every fan in the band’s live presentation. Guitarist Dan Donegan is a huge man with a bigger library of riffs. John Moyer handles the bass with aplomb, and drummer Mike Wengren is as solid as a rock; he’s simply one of the best in the business.

Disturbed may be nu metal but you’ve probably heard most of the songs played here, and it would be nearly impossible to pick out any highlights-they were all highlights. Of personal interest to me was the inclusion of “The Infection” in a slot that features a rotating group of songs. “The Infection” might get played every 5-6 gigs, but since it’s my favorite Disturbed song, I was particularly happy it was included on this night.

After the show, the talk amongst the crowd was all the same-there wasn’t a bad song played on this night. Every band did a great show, and since it was affordably priced, this might have been the best hard rock bargain of a tour to come around in a long time.