After a 5 year hiatus, Disturbed returned to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater and brought Breaking Benjamin, Alter Bridge and Saint Asonia with them to shake the foundation in front of what appeared to be a sold out crowd. I’ll immediately fess up to not knowing much about Saint Asonia; I learned during their performance that lead singer Adam Gontier is the guy from Three Days Grace. I had heard he left TDG, but I wasn’t aware he formed a new band until he took the stage on Saturday night. That said, they were an absolute blast and I’d like to hear more from them as their set was short and included a pair of Three Days Grace songs, Just Like You and I Hate Everything About You. Suffice to say, Saint Asonia are a solid band and I very much enjoyed their performance despite really only being able to listen to their last 4 songs, which included bringing Mark Tremonti out for Better Place. I need to hear more from Saint Asonia before passing any kind of judgment, but they appear to be a solid act and I hope they stick around so I can see them again.
Having never been much of a Breaking Benjamin fan, the main attractions for me on this night were Alter Bridge and Disturbed, and of course, following Saint Asonia were Alter Bridge, who I had been dying to see live for a good while now. First, let me say that as someone who grew up listening to Creed in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when Alter Bridge first came about, I refused to listen to them because it was weird to see the guys from Creed with a lead singer other than Scott Stapp. When I finally did listen to their debut album, One Day Remains, I didn’t like it because Myles Kennedy was not Scott Stapp. Stupid reason, I know, and for the longest time I didn’t like Alter Bridge. Then Myles Kennedy teamed up with Slash and everything changed; Myles proved himself to have one of the best voices in rock and I immediately went back to Alter Bridge with a new appreciation, and they’ve since become one of my favorite bands, so naturally I was excited to finally see them live, and while they did leave me somewhat disappointed in their setlist, they left absolutely nothing to be desired in their performance.
Despite also being limited to a short, 7-song set, Alter Bridge absolutely killed it on stage, belting out Come To Life, Farther Than The Sun, their first hit in Metalingus, Addicted To Pain and ultimately closing with Rise Today. Myles Kennedy is exactly what I’ve known him to be since I first saw him live with Slash a few years back when they opened for Aerosmith, the guy who can sing absolutely anything with incredible range and powerful vocals, while Mark Tremonti continues to be one of the best guitarists on the planet. I did say Alter Bridge left something to be desired in their setlist, and that’s because my 3 favorite Alter Bridge songs, Fallout, All Ends Well and Fortress, were not included, which was a disappointment but also cause to see them again on a headlining tour, and I would absolutely see them again because their abbreviated set was incredible. I just wish they had more time, or at least would have played one of the songs I really wanted to hear live, but they were excellent and I could have listened to their set all night.
After a quick set change, it was time for co-headliner Breaking Benjamin. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been a big fan of Breaking Benjamin. I’ve known about them forever, and I like a few of their popular songs, but they were never a band I thought about seeing live. It just so happened that they’re on tour with Disturbed, who I absolutely had to see again and anything else was a bonus, and what a bonus Breaking Benjamin turned out to be. The band opened with So Cold, which is probably the first Breaking Benjamin song I ever heard, before going into Sooner or later and Blow Me Away, another of my favorites. The real treat came after Blow Me Away, though, when the band played a quintet of riffs from The Imperial March, Tool’s hit song Schism, the Nirvana anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit and the iconic Pantera track Walk.
Following the rapid-fire riffs, the band went in to a few tracks I’m not overly familiar with, including Ashes of Eden, Believe and Failure before finally getting to my favorite Breaking Benjamin track and one of their biggest hits, I Will Not Bow, which sounded absolutely incredible live and definitely makes my list of songs you absolutely must hear live once before you die. After a dozen songs, it was time for Breaking Benjamin to close their set, and naturally they closed with what is unquestionably their biggest hit, The Diary of Jane. Now, this is all personal preference, but I would have loved for them to end with I Will Not Bow. It’s the perfect anthem to leave the stage to and would have been a great way to end their set, and I say that not because The Diary of Jane is a bad song, but because it received so much airtime on local radio in a past life when New York still had an alternative rock station to call our own, and it became stale and I grew to dislike the song. Again, that’s all personal preference, and deep down I knew they were going to close with The Diary of Jane, and it doesn’t detract from their set in any way. Breaking Benjamin kicked ass on stage and sold me on checking out more of their music and, hopefully, become a fan. They left me wanting more when it was all said and done, and I think any band that performs so well on stage is worthy of a longer listen.
And now we get to the moment we’ve all come for – it was time for Disturbed to take the stage, break the foundation and send Nikon at Jones Beach Theater floating away into the Long Island Sound. I saw Disturbed for the first and only other time way back in 2011 on their Music as a Weapon tour with Korn and In This Moment at Hammerstein Ballroom, and the band announced their indefinite hiatus shortly thereafter. David Draiman went on to do Device, a much heavier industrial metal project in the vain and Korn and similar bands, a project I really like and still listen to today, while John Moyer went and did Adrenaline and Dan Donegan and Mike Wengren formed Fight or Flight. While I liked all of those bands, they were not Disturbed, and I began to wonder whether Disturbed would ever reform and take over the world once again the way they did way back in 2000 with The Sickness. When the waiting ended, I knew I had to see Disturbed live, and while I ultimately missed out on their return to NYC back in April when they played Irving Plaza, I got to see the better show on Saturday night at Jones Beach.
As a media photojournalist, I get to watch the first 3 songs through my camera’s viewfinder from the photo pit directly in front of the stage, and in those 3 songs I was treated to the set’s opener, Ten Thousand Fists along with The Game from their debut album, as well as The Vengeful One from the band’ 2015 return, Immortalized. As a side note, I’ve never seen so much pyro on one stage in my life, and I’ve been going to concerts for a long time now, and I’m glad I got to attend one of their outdoor shows for just that reason. Pyro makes for a much better Disturbed show.
After packing up my gear and the rain (finally) stopping, I was able to make my way to my seat for the first time all night, which was after the band belted out Prayer and Liberate from their second studio offering, Believe, as well as The Infection from 2010’s Asylum. I made it to my seat in time to hear 2000’s Stupify, and the song that was by far the highlight of the night, their absolutely unbelievable cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. There are no words to describe how great Disturbed’s rendition of a classic from a completely different genre is; knowing David Draiman can sing hard rock and metal is one thing, but to find out via their latest album that he can belt out a ballad like The Sound of Silence is a different experience from what most of us are used to hearing from Draiman. Hearing the band perform the song live makes you believe Draiman could sing anything and is not just the metal vocalist we’ve all come to know him as over the last 16 years, and The Sound of Silence completed the night.
Of course, that would not be the end of Disturbed’d set, not by a longshot. The set would continue with Inside The Fire, The Light and Stricken before playing Indestructible. There would be no encore on this night, as there rarely is with a Disturbed show. They go straight through their set, and while they only played an hour, they managed to fit 14 hard hitting, ass kicking, blow the roof off the place hard rock and metal tracks with a selection to satisfy even the most hardcore of Disturbed fans. Now, Indestructible was not the end of the set. Disturbed would continue for two more songs, Voices, which is up there with my favorite Disturbed songs, and of course, they would close the night the same way they have closed every night for the last decade and a half or so, by playing what is arguably their biggest hit, The Sickness.
David Draiman and the boys in Disturbed might be 5 years older from the last time I saw them live, but you’d never know it watching them jump around on stage like it’s 2001 again. They were awesome when I saw them for the first time 5 years ago, but they were even better Saturday night outdoors at Jones Beach, which is not often something that happens with an outdoor show versus an indoor show. Draiman’s voice is as powerful as ever, and Moyer, Donegan and Wengren are no slouches themselves as they continue to belt out ass kicking tunes to back Draiman’s in your face vocals. I really wish their set had been longer, which seems to be a theme here with the bands I came to see, but in the time they had to share with us, they kicked our collective ass 15,000 strong and I’d gladly be the recipient of another Disturbed ass kicking.
When it was all said and done, David Draiman ended the show the way he ends every show, by asking those of us in attendance, his brothers, his sisters, his blood, to say their name with him one time. We all are Disturbed.
Photos of Disturbed’s performance below. All photos by Sean Murphy.