John Labatt Centre
April 6, 2010
As I barrelled down Highway 401 in the Rebel Reviewer mobile trying make the 7:45 photo call for Breaking Benjamin in London, I realized about halfway, unless I ditched the Jeep for a helicopter, I just wasn’t gonna make it in time.
As I had suspected I rolled into the John Labatt Centre parking lot 15 minutes late and to my dismay discovered I had no memory card in my camera to boot. It’s been a tough week, so naturally a few things have been slipping my mind but my camera’s memory card??? Not good.
Thank God for my wife’s decent point and shoot. I happened to have that in my camera bag all ready to go so pulled out the old Canon S5 to see how it would perform at a concert. No, not quite the 40D that I’m used to wielding but it managed to get a decent visual representation of a band I’ve wanted to see for quite some time now, Nickelback.
It wasn’t til their 3rd album “Silver Side Up” that they showed up on my radar. When I first started hearing them on the radio I thought this was a band that I could sink my teeth into and savour as their heavy riffs and clean production made them easy to digest. Being fellow Canadians, I often like to rally behind the underdog knowing the uphill battle Canuck musicians face.
But then the CRTC fucked our new little band from Hanna, Alberta. Way back when I first heard of the 33% deal whereby any Canadian radio station has to play 1/3 Canadian content, I thought it was a GREAT idea. But then as time went by, I realized all it really did was make us hate our own bands because of repetition. Nickelback was just so accessible with so many widely accepted tunes, they were played to death. And they still are.
We now know immediately when a new Nickelback tune is on the radio because of their instantly recognizable sound. So I have to say to all the nay sayers out there, if Nickelback is SO unoriginal, then why do we instantly recognize their NEW tunes when they’re played? I’d say they have an original sound which is REALLY hard to come by these days.
I’ve heard musicians put them down because their music is “too simple” and their lyrics are juvenile. Sure, their music is pretty simple. But so is AC/DC, Kiss, Motley Crue and a host of other over the top bands. They’re all touring the world being treated like kings while we shlep our asses to work after shovelling the snow outta the driveway. Who wins that argument? As for lyrics, we’re talking about rock n roll here, not Shakespearean poetry. If you want poetic lyrics, go buy a Paul Simon album. Hey, I hear he’s touring this year.
So what it seems like to me, is that these musicians who have been playing their asses off for years and years and still haven’t made it are probably just pissed that this “inferior band” has gone straight to the top in a few short years and better yet, they’ve stayed there.
With all the negative criticism floating around about Nickelback it’s sad that a lot of these people have just made up their minds a few years ago and stuck with it. They almost find it fun to just hate the band. Alice Cooper was on the radio a few nights ago saying that he came across a Facebook group claiming that a Pickle could get more fans than Nickelback and he was laughing cuz he thinks the band should embrace the stupidity of the whole thing and make a joke out of it! I totally agreed! I thought the whole idea was hilarious.
Alice was saying they could use a pickle as their logo or on the next album. Start throwing pickles into the audience instead of T shirts. He had some fun with it and I think Chad and the boys should too. Nothing is gonna stop the masses from making fun of them but every night they go out and stand face to face with thousands of people who love them and THAT is what should take precedence over everything negative surrounding the good ship Nickelback.
On with the show. First off, I had to sign my life away shooting Nickelback and the biggest rule of the night was “no profile pics”. This made me wonder what the problem was with these guys. They’re DUDES, they shouldn’t give a fuck about their profiles!!! You want someone who should worry about their profile? Pete Townsend. Keep that guy away from my cocaine!
So that is all you’re gonna get outta me in the negative department. The rest is all cake n icing. Musically they sounded great. Nailed it all down perfectly. I guess the one thing you can say about being played to death on the radio is that EVERYBODY knows your tunes. There wasn’t a single tune they threw at me that I didn’t know. Even the other reviewer I was sitting with, this young little University cutie, claimed she couldn’t stand Nickelback but every time I looked over, she was singing their songs. So what is it darlin? Love em or hate em?
As for the show, they spare no expenses. Tonnes of pyro. Concussion bombs, fireballs, flames, sparks, rockets… you name it. These guys pulled out more pyro than Kiss and Metallica combined. The thing that was really cool was the way the guys just seemed to razz the shit outta each other the whole time. Just like me and my friends do to each other.
Chad Kroeger replayed drummer, Daniel Adair’s face during his drum solo and pointed out all the amazing “fuck faces” he was making. It was hilarious. Joking about the size of his brother’s dick, bass player Mike Kroeger, and making rhythm guitarist Ryan Peake whistle along to Guns n Roses’ “Patience”. Chad was a non-stop talker, telling little stories about this and that, making little comments to keep us laughing. It all adds up to being part of a great show.. every little piece helps and Nickelback’s puzzle is totally complete.
Including roadies with their high powered air guns firing T-shirts into the audience, and throwing half-full beer cups out to the fans just like Pantera used to do back in the day. It was a great time. You could tell THEY are having FUN every night. I don’t know how many times Chad shook his head and said “I love my job!” You couldn’t wipe the smile off Chad’s face. It just kept creeping back no matter how serious he was about the music, it was clear to me and the 12,000 fans in attendance that Nickelback are still having a good time no matter what.
I’m so glad I finally got out to see the most criticized band in rock n roll these days. I have my thoughts about them and those thoughts were only solidified by the live show. As far as I can see, they’re just a bunch of dudes travelling the planet, playing good music, rockin the biggest venues and partying on rock n roll’s dime. Two thumbs up guys, keep on rockin!