Shinedown were explosive Thursday night (Nov. 19) in Connecticut -- literally. Their newfound affinity for pyrotechnics staggered the Mohegan Sun Arena with concussion size blasts and sunburn flames befitting of Mötley Crüe. Fun to watch, but based upon the look on so many faces, this band does not need the special effects to fully command the attention of a sold out audience.

In Brent Smith, the band has not only a commanding voice, but also the presence of an intense frontman determined to connect with the emotional consciousness of every single person in the audience. It was something of a rock and roll revival, with Smith again proving himself a master of reaching people through his pulpit of hope and brotherhood.

“Cut the Cord” opened the 15-song set that cradled several new songs from Threat To Survival with the mega hits off Amaryllis and The Sound of Madness. The heart on sleeve vulnerability of Shinedown's early years has evolved since the popularity of The Sound Of Madness pushed them into the vague enormity of larger venues and greater success. This Connecticut show clearly indicated a now better interlace of big spectacle with the intangible intimacy that made the band so beloved in the first place.

Emotional lyrics, with tight, catchy musicianship and lively stage presence, plus the clarity of FOH sound that gave weight without distortion, make Smith,drummer Barry Kerch, guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass a triple threat. Those factors were clearly all in place to great response on Thursday night in Connecticut.

Breaking Benjamin likewise met with fanatical response. If Shinedown's onstage communion that at times brought Mohegan Sun to a fever pitch was evangelical, Benjamin Burnley was more forceful in insisting that people rise to their feet — and they did. His between song recollection of being a fan himself further endeared the band to a crowd already won over and loudly singing along.

Burnley's all new Benjamin lineup came across more cohesive than a band that has only played together for little more than a year. Like Shinedown, their setlist bracketed three new songs from their recently released Dark Before Dawn album with the familiarity of tracks off Phobia and We Are Not Alone. Throughout their set, attention was not limited to focusing on Burnley, with guitarist Keith Wallen and bassist Aaron Bruch each taking a turn singing a song, the latter channeling a bit of Nine Inch Nails with his Trent Reznor-esque voice on “Believe.” That, and bold fretwork from guitarist Jasen Rauch and Shaun Foist's involved drum fills, were among the many highlights of their set.

The opening support slot gave Sevendust little time to launch into full beast mode, allowing for a bit of caged tiger anxiousness in their short set. Still, six songs were nonetheless a hard-hitting performance of their aggressive, soulful style.

Check out our photo gallery from the show above.