Who: Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Nothing More, Bad Wolves
Where: Xfinity Center, Mansfield, Massachusetts
When: August 18, 2018
One of the biggest tours of the summer is the Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin co-headliner. Part of Live Nation’s Ticket to Rock package, the tour stop at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA was packed to the brim with fans eager to see all four bands on the bill.
Opener Bad Wolves went on first. Bad Wolves is still a relatively new band to the scene, although, with the mark they have been making lately, it is easy to forget that their debut album was released only a few months ago. This was my second time seeing Bad Wolves; I had previously caught them live when they co-headlined with From Ashes To New at the Aura in Portland, Maine. Bad Wolves were even better the second time around. Vocalist Tommy Vext was very audience aware; he acknowledged the fans all the way from the front to the back and from side to side. Guitarist Doc Coyle and bassist Kyle Konkiel (guitarist Chris Cain was absent this night) moved from side to side themselves, never staying glued to one specific spot. The only band member who was not jumping around the stage was drummer John Boecklin for obvious reasons, but he was not forgotten about behind his kit. During their short set, they performed songs off their debut album Disobey, including “Officer Down,” “Learn To Live,” “Remember When,” and “Run For Your Life.” Special guest Diamante was brought up to perform “Hear Me Now;” I previously saw Diamante in action when she opened for Bad Wolves in Maine, but her stage presence was even better this time around. She sounded great and left a great impression, despite the short time she was on stage. Hit “Zombie” – which was the first song of 2018 to go platinum – closed out the performance and was dedicated to Jill Janus of Huntress; the song got everyone in the audience who was not already standing up on their feet, singing along to every word. Bad Wolves held their own in front of such a large audience. I will not be surprised to see them headlining their own summer amphitheater tour in a very short time.
Nothing More was the second band on stage. I have been a fan of Nothing More’s for a while but unfortunately had never gotten the opportunity to see them live before. I have heard nothing but good things about their live set; every expectation I had was completely shattered by their unbelievably remarkable time on stage. The set started with drummer Ben Anderson, guitarist Mark Vollelunga, and bassist Daniel Oliver coming out and starting with their respective instruments before frontman Jonny Hawkins walked on and went to his drums. The set started off at an extremely high energy level and – to my immense surprise – it actually got higher as the set went on, especially during certain songs. “Do You Really Want It?” started the set off, followed by a lot of audience favorites, from “Mr. MTV” and “First Punch” to “Fat Kid,” “Go To War,” “Just Say When,” “Jenny,” and “This Is The Time (Ballast).” The famous scorpion tail was on full display during their recognizable cover of Skrillex’s “First Of The Year (Equinox).” “Salem (Burn The Witch)” got Hawkins back on the drums and finished the set off on a high. The setlist was well thought out and well planned; the audience was screaming along to every single song. Nothing More has something special that really sets them apart from a lot of bands. Their music is good, their live show is excellent, and the audience connection is superb. They were the best band of the night from start to finish and I will run to see them the next time they are in my area.
Breaking Benjamin built up the excitement for their set by raising a big white sheet that covered the stage. When it was time for their set, vocalist Benjamin Burnley was lit from behind so you could see his silhouette as the band performed the very opening of “Red Cold River” off their latest album Ember; when the sheet fell down, the crowd went nuts as the band continued through a setlist that was a mix of audience favorites, including “I Will Not Bow,” “Blow Me Away,” “Angels Fall,” “Psycho,” “Failure,” and “The Diary of Jane.” This was my third time seeing Breaking Benjamin; I saw them twice two years ago when they double-headlined with Disturbed, once at the very same venue. In comparison to my two previous show experiences, this one disappointed me. The first two bands had been extremely high-energy; Breaking Benjamin was not. Burnley did connect with the audience, but I did not feel as if it was to the same level as the two previous bands. Part of the issue was the fact that you could barely see the band. There was almost no light on him at all; what little light there was was mostly back-lighting, so all I could see was a shadow moving across the stage. He did do a great job of moving from side to side, but it really hindered me from forming a real connection with the set. Breaking Benjamin sounded great live, as they did the previous times I have seen them and the setlist was well-planned. Overall, their set left me wanting more and I will think twice before seeing them live again.
The last time Five Finger Death Punch had a show in Massachusetts was November 25, 2016. If you Google “Five Finger Death Punch Worcester MA show,” you will come across several articles reporting how the night went sideways (vocalist Ivan Moody revealing that his mother was passing away, which later was reported to be a different family member who had not passed, bassist Chris Kael performing in his place, and the band eventually walking off the stage); in short, it was the worst concert I have ever been to. This had all happened after excellent sets from As Lions, Sixx AM, and especially Shinedown. We never got a formal apology from the band, so Five Finger Death Punch had a lot to prove and a lot riding on this performance. When the black sheet came down, the set immediately started to make up for the previous experience. They had great stage presence, constantly interacting with the fans. Vocalist Ivan Moody, who before had been so disappointing, was the best frontman of the night. His vocals were perfect, he made sure to move from side to side and pay attention to every member of the audience; I was wowed. Within the first few songs, he took a moment to apologize profusely to the audience, and apologized a few more times throughout the show, as well. “Wash It All Away,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Bad Company,” “Never Enough,” “Wrong Side of Heaven,” “Remember Everything,” “Coming Down,” “Under And Over It” and more got an undeniably positive response from the audience. Guitarists Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory and bassist Kael did their parts in keeping the audience entertained as well, with Hook’s guitar that lit up and Bathory’s and Kael’s classic dread-whips; drummer Jeremy Spencer was fun even hidden in the giant skull. Five Finger Death Punch were professional and gave the audience what they paid for and more. I was very hesitant going into this show, but after this experience will happily see Five Finger Death Punch again.
The four-band lineup each brought something different to the table. Some exceeded expectations while others did not, but overall, every band left the audience satisfied. Summer concerts are a tradition and this is one that is sure to continue.
Post and photos by Karen Shalev
Did you attend this tour? Comment below.
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