[Photographer Andrei Chlytchkov was dispatched into yet another pit, this time to grab shots of the Three Days Grace/Breaking Benjamin show at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto on was out with his camera again, making it down front on September 2. Text by L. Benny Sanders. – AC]
As the last embers of the 2019 Canadian National Exhibition died away, the inferno was just beginning south of Lakeshore Blvd. Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace as the musical match (along Diamante and Dorothy as kindling) pretty much went up like a Roman candle.
Diamante opened the concert with half a dozen tunes from her repertoire including the Bad Wolves tune, “Hear Me Now,” that featured the lead singer on guest vocals. “Bite Your Kiss,” a Billboard top ten hit of theirs that was released in 2014, was the first offering of the set. The band was tight and on point with (as one of a my seatmates mentioned) a sound rather like PINK. The set closed with the song “War Cry,” (featured on their last year’s album Coming in Hot.
Dorothy, a hard rock quintet band out of LA, features Dorothy Martin, guitarists Nick Perri and Eli Wulfmeier, bassist Eliot Lorango and drummer Jason Ganberg.
The band smoked the Budweiser Stage with tunes from both of their albums (2016’s Rockisdead and last year’s 28 Days in the Valley) and heated up the crowd as the cool air drifted in from Lake Ontario.
Opening with “After Midnight” (their first release) and including their latest offering “Who Do You Love”, Dorothy would self-describe themselves as being not as heavy as they began, but a bit more like Stones-like. They were rockin’ the blues especially as the set closed out to cheers for “Freedom.”
Three Days Grace’s set began with lots of fire, kicking their set off with “The Mountain.” Lead vocalist Matt Walst shouted “ROCK’NROLL!” and it was on. This was definitely a 3DG crowd.
During the set, which included “Pain”, “Right Left Wrong” and a snippet from ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” the video screens behind the foursome raged with images complimenting the music.
A notable moment in the set was when Walst’s 12-year-old nephew James Moss was brought on stage to play guitar with the band. Just for a bit of fun, a few bars of “Seven Nation Army” graced “Animal” To the call of “Riot” the mosh-pit joined in to shout their final tune from their 2006 CD release, One-X. (Special thanks to Marcello for keeping me on track with the tune titles.)
Just over a year ago, I sat in this same theatre awaiting the appearance of breaking Benjamin with Mrs. Wolf. As the set began, actual flames burst forth from the stage, and the ‘EYE’ (from the cover of Ember) appeared on the screen behind drummer Shaun Foist. The band burned into “Red Cold River” (also from Ember) and the crowd itself was on fire with applause as Benjamin Burnley ‘s (lead vocalist and the only remaining member of the group that formed in 1999) voice singed the air.
As they broke into “I Will Not Bow” (one of the first tunes that Burnley composed with current guitarist Jasen Rauch six years before he was in Breaking Benjamin), the voices of the crowd were almost louder than the band itself. The fans sang the choruses after obviously practicing them since the song was released (in 2009) ten years ago.
The entire consisted of 17 songs, including a medley pieced together from “The Imperial March,” “Cowboys From Hell,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Bulls On Parade” which was concluded by a drum solo by Foist. At one point Benjamin asked us to light up the stadium, and those who had Bics, used them. The rest of us made do with cell-phone video lights. Thanks to Bill for helping me get mine working.
Mid-set Burnley brought a lucky little Stormtrooper on stage as he joined the band on a light-sabered drum kit of his own. The entire presentation was a greatest hits selection from all six of their albums and concluding with “Torn in Two” from Ember.
Then came the encore, two carefully selected numbers, “Rain” (from We Are Not Alone) and “Diary of Jane” (from Phobia), the latter a tribute to the film-star (Jane Bryan) of the 1930s. This tune is a fan favourite that received an incredible amount of airplay upon its release in 2006.
At the conclusion, the crowd reaction slow died out, the fire finally doused, but the concert will long burn in the minds of those who were there.