The band’s return to the ACC finds the usual frenetic energy somewhat lacking, owing to less anthem-y new songs and a very chatty Chad Kroeger, though the execution of the set was technically flawless.
Music, Published on Mon Feb 23 2015
At the Air Canada Centre, Feb. 22.
Nickelback has changed its performance tactic.
Once a combo that used all the bells and whistles available at its disposal with somewhat reckless abandon, the B.C.-based hard rock quartet showed unexpected restraint with the special effects at its Air Canada Centre performance Sunday night.
Explosions? Not a one.
Fire . . . okay, there was some pyro, but its inclusion seemed more of an afterthought to the three or four songs for which it was employed.
Switch them on.
Switch them off.
No, the Chad Kroeger-fronted foursome (occasionally boosted by one member with the sporadic appearance of third guitarist Tim Hay), performing in front of a half circle-shaped projection screen and a light show that wasn’t anything to write home about, decided instead to focus on two traits: personality (Kroeger’s) and music.
And I never thought I’d say this about a Nickelback concert, but I missed the bombast.
Perhaps the thunderous detonations and unexpected bursts of flame added an illusion of intensity and energy to the proceedings in previous tours — this is my third go round with the rockers — but the razor edge that gives the band that additional power boost seemed a little dulled without them.
Some of the lack of dynamism might also be the result of a few developments: firstly, the band’s eighth album, No Fixed Address, finds songwriting genius Kroeger misplacing the Midas Touch that has sold over 50 million albums as he stretches into new territory: the political “Edge of a Revolution,” with its calls for change, and “She Keeps Me Up,” a funky, almost disco-ish number.
While he should be applauded for trying to expand his horizons — Nickelback detractors often accuse him of repeatedly writing “the same song” over again — these songs don’t offer the same staying power as the naughty “Something in Your Mouth” or the country-flavoured ballad “Photograph,” both which drew wild cheering and applause from the estimated 15,000 in attendance.
The other change is front man Kroeger’s comfort level with his audience. Talk about casual: Kroeger was a regular chatterbox.
“It’s so great to be playing a rock ’n’ roll show on Canadian soil,” he bellowed after the opener, “A Million Miles an Hour,” a song noted for the disciplined rhythms dispatched by the anchoring tandem of bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Daniel Adair.
“It’s fr*#$% cold Canadian soil, but we can handle the weather.”
The disarmingly frank and funny Chad Kroeger dialogue didn’t disperse after the first few numbers; it carried on for the entire show.
“Since this is a Nickelback show, there will be vulgarity,” he joked at another point, projecting an earthy persona that the audience just lapped up.
The relaxed informality again translated into a subtle loss of energy, although the execution of the show’s 19 songs — Silver Side Up’s “Too Bad” and a somewhat listless “How You Remind Me,” All the Right Reasons’ “Rock Star” and Dark Horse’s driving “Burn It to the Ground,” a solid choice for encore if there ever was one and one of the evening standouts — was technically flawless.
So yeah, it was a regular campfire gathering, even with a handful of covers thrown in, including an Eagles sing-along for “Take It Easy” and the first verse and chorus of “Hotel California.”
For all the Nickelback hits that could have been included — “Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good,” “Never Again” and “Lullaby” among them — it made you wonder why precious concert time was given to meaningless covers like Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” or Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” the latter sung by Ryan Peake.
Oh, there was one constant from the old Nickelback days: beer.
The old tradition of flinging quarter cups of beer into the audience still gives Nickelback that blue-collar aura that it does so well.
Maybe that’s the secret . . . the drunker one gets, the faster they sound.
Either way, fans in general were thrilled to the point of delirium with how Nickelback reminded them that rock ’n’ roll in general is one big, escapist celebration — even without the explosions.