ALICE IN CHAINS
with Plush, Bush and Breaking Benjamin
October 8, 2022
Photos & Review by Michael LaFleche
MANSFIELD, Mass. – It was a cold Saturday night for the final show of the season at the outdoor amphitheater, the Xfinity Center in Mansfield. Still, the crowd did not seem to care as they rocked out to all the hits provided by some of the most popular and influential bands of the last 30 years.
The bill was a great variety of rock genres that would please almost any music fan Saturday, with newcomers Plush starting the event off. Plush is fronted by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Moriah Formica, who has excellent rock pipes and an authentic rock star vibe. Locally trained guitarist Bella Perron, who attended Berklee College of Music and is a shredder. She is followed by a bassist, the female Cliff Burton, Ashley Suppa. I did not get the drummer’s name, as she is new on tour with the band filling in for a recent departure, but she also had powerful energy that got the crowd moving. They are hard rock and becoming quite popular with their self-titled album doing very well. And they also played some great cover hits, like Heart’s Barracuda.
PLUSH photo gallery
Next up were Gavin Rossdale and Bush. The British band exploded onto the scene in the early 90s and, for a time, seemed like the most popular band on the planet. They are still making great music, changing style, and adapting over the years. But even the hits we all remember from their Sixteen Stone album feel relevant today. The ten-song set had hits like “Machinehead” but also mixed in songs from the entire catalog. Some of the highlights included “Everything Zen,” with Benjamin Burnley, whose band was next to appear on stage, and a solo performance of “Glycerine,” with Gavin Rossdale leading a singalong of 10,000+ fans at the jam-packed arena. The rest of the band was fantastic, with who has been in multiple bands such as Helmet, but with Bush since 2011, Chris Traynor on guitar duty. Corey Britz nailed the bass, and Nik Hughes, another great musician worked with many artists as a drummer in the past.
BUSH photo gallery
I was in for a surprise next, with Breaking Benjamin. They literally brought the fire to the show with a fantastic pyro display that kept us warm in the photo pit. It was a massive set of 16 songs. Another thing I was not prepared for the screaming fans who love this band. It sounded like the Ed Sullivan theatre the first time the Beatles came to the USA. The band is made up of Benjamin Burnley, of course, Aaron Bruch plucking the bass, Shaun Foist on percussion, and Keith Wallen with Jasen Rauch also on guitars, each with their own unique vibe. They played all the expected songs, but the night’s highlight, I thought, was the performance of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever’ acoustic, with Benjamin’s son on stage. With it being the last show on the tour, there were all sorts of unscripted moments like this and more. The show wrapped up with “The Diary with Jane.” I was totally blown away by their performance.
BREAKING BENJAMIN photo gallery
Now one of my favorite bands that I had never had a chance to see was Jerry Cantrell and Alice in Chains. Legendary purveyors of soul-crushing heavy grunge (I say that in the most favorable light), AIC came out to the stage with a clean, simple set befit with crazy fabulous LED displays and an almost clinical-looking atmosphere, no wires anywhere to trip over, iPads at each mic stand. It was much more spartan than I would have dreamed an AIC show to have. They did have a cool chain curtain that created an interesting effect with the brightly lit stage. I actually appreciated it but was really surprised, but the sound was terrific, as good as a Phish show if you have ever been. Alice in Chains is made up of lead singer William DuVall, who obviously took over for Layne Staley after his passing many years ago. William is unique, and his talents should not be underrated. He is a great vocalist and provides the band with a tremendous focal point complimentary to the rest of the band. The rest of the band are longtime greats, such as Sean Kinney on the drum kit, and legendary bass player Mike Inez who played with Ozzy and Black Label Society alongside Zakk Wylde. Of course, the incomparable Jerry Cantrell, doing much of the songwriting, and vocal work as well as designing the grunge/metal style, created an entire genre of music.
The show was terrific, with a 13-song set on the final night of the tour, kicked off with hits like “Again,” the more recent and best guitar riff to ever start a song, “Check my Brain” followed by “Grind.” Then the band took it to another gear with hits like “Down in a Hole,” “Damn the River,” and “Angry Chair” from the Layne Staley days, but the band does remarkably, dare I say, a better job now as they have become more accomplished musicians. Highlights include Benjamin Burnley sharing a microphone again with “Man in the Box,” and following that was a heartfelt tribute to Layne Staley and Mike Starr, the original bass player who passed in 2011, playing “Nutshell.” The night would end with “Would?” and “Rooster” all songs most any rock fan will know. What a way to end the tour, and I can’t wait to see all these bands again.