By Joshua Muller
On March 9, alternative rock band Breaking Benjamin performed live at “the happiest place on Earth” at Disneyland’s House of Blues. The band went on tour for their new album Dark Before Dawn for the first time since since 2010 due to lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley’s chronic illness and his phobias of travel. The sold out Wednesday night’s show and the small venue crammed in hundreds of fans excited to watch the band perform.
Before the band could start playing, a surprise auction was held by the Breaking Benjamin crew to sell a signed guitar to one lucky fan. All the money from the auction and merchandise purchased by the fans would be donated by the band to Saint Jude Children Hospital to help fund research for children suffering from cancer. After selling the signed guitar for $2,500 the stage went dark and the crowd screamed with exhilaration.
Opening with “So Cold” the crowd got to hear Benjamin Burnley’s voice for the first time in almost six years. The slow beginning of the song welcomed each of the band members perfectly as they walked onto the stage and then began rocking out. Embracing the wild Anaheim fans Burnley shredded his guitar for “Follow” and from their new album “Angels Fall”.
Taking a break to speak to the crowd, Burnley said he wanted to dedicate their next song “Unknown Soldier” to the men and women who serve our country. “We owe them with their gratitude that we cannot possibly repay… the least we can do is acknowledge them, honor them, and support them.” Drummer Shaun Foist sets the pace to start the song as Burnley finishes. The band continued on to play “Simple Design” with bass guitarist Aaron Burch leading vocals, “Ashes of Eden”, and finished with one of their most popular songs “Blow Me Away” having all the lights in the venue shut off and highlight them in a red subdued spotlight.
After, the band began to play a rock version Darth Vader’s Imperial March theme song. Being a huge Star Wars fan, Benjamin Burnley jokingly pledges his allegiance to the Dark Side while wielding a red lightsaber. As the song finishes the spotlights shut off and the glow of another red lightsaber shines in the dark. Darth Vader appears on stage with the lightsaber surprising Burnley and the crowd. “I have felt a disturbance in the force… it is you Ben.” “In case you guys don’t know,” says Aaron Burch, “it’s Ben’s birthday.” As the crowd and Burnley process the confusion Burch leads everyone into wishing Burnley a happy birthday while a Death Star cake is rolled out which forms a big smile on Burnley’s face. “I had no idea this was going to happen guys,” laughing as he addressed the crowd, “Thank you so much.” Burnley and the band members shook Vader’s hand and resumed positions to play a special cover song that Burnley planned to play for his birthday.
The band combined legendary rock songs like TOOL’s distinctive bass line beginning of “Schism”, Nirvana’s energetic “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and Pantera’s headbanging riffs of “Walk” into to one amazing cover song. The crazed fans erupted into a jumping house as if it was a party thrown for Burnley. At the end of the cover the band immediately transitioned to their song “Polyamorous” before taking a break and preparing to end the night.
Burnley dedicated their next song “Give Me a Sign” as thanks to the crowd for their support and their love. Burnley played through half the song before asking for the lights to be shut off again. Burnley asked the crowd to pull out their cell phones and turn the light on. “Feel grateful for that light because without it we’d be in the dark… we can see because you are providing that light, thank you so much Anaheim for your light!” The memorable and touching moment really showed the bands love towards their fans as the concert was coming to a close.
Finishing the set with their recent hit “Failure” off their new album and their first single “I Will Not Bow”, the band ended the night with their most popular song “The Diary of Jane”. The entire crowd sang the final song word for word until the song came to a close ending the night. Burnley thanked the crowd, reminds them of the proceeds going to charity, and waves to the fans goodbye. Although Benjamin Burnley suffers from multiple illnesses and phobias that prevent him from playing sometimes, it did not stop him from rocking out out on his birthday with his crazy fans in Anaheim.