@Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, October 25 2016
When those cheeky boys in Royal Blood (remember them?) described Nickelback as a combination of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump earlier this week the Canadian band’s retort was typically sharp. Tweeting from an official account they replied ‘Nickelback jokes are like @royalblooduk, they were a lot cooler a couple of years ago’.
And that’s what makes Chad Kroeger a much more palatable choice as president than ether Clinton or Trump – love or loathe his band there’s no denying the endearing frontman connects with his fans on a level most public figures can only hope to emulate. Quick-witted, self-deprecating, humble and self-confident, his electric personality is the perfect mix if standing astride stadium stages and preaching to the masses is your calling.
And it’s the perfect way to hit back at your critics.
Nickelback don’t do press. They don’t admit photographers into the pit. They don’t play the PR game but they don’t have to. What the insanely popular Albertans do is deliver: night in, night out.
Watching Kroeger and co. romp through a greatest hits set, their global success is frequently unfathomable. They are in no way cool. They look like a bunch of middle-aged men on their way to the bowling alley. Their songs are cheesier than a Parisian fromagerie. And a brilliantly sharp big screen is the best thing about a one-dimensional stage show. In fact, compared to boundary-pushing, groove-laden, retro-fuelled support Monster Truck the headline act are, on the face of it, eminently boring.
But that’s the bizarre juxtaposition where this band is concerned. Nickelback are the very antithesis of boring. They had a blast and so did the crowd. Big smiles, big choruses and even bigger riffs made for a brilliant night out. On the final show of their European tour a sensational set flew by in a flash. Both band and fans wanted more – even in the wake of piledriving chart busters Photograph, Someday, Rockstar and How You Remind Me.
Kroeger harped on about how this was like the last day of school – tour manager Brad playing his straight man/prefect role to perfection – and each and every member of Nickelback looked like excited kids waiting for the bell to sound. Their enthusiasm proved infectious and their reputation rocketed: the onstage joy transferred to utter jubilation in the middle-aged pit.
Then Kroeger made a most pertinent point. Taking a swipe at those bands who allow ‘personal’ differences to destroy their legacy and curtail any creativity he pointed out that Nickelback are built on a foundation of friendship and fun – with the egos left at home. It was typically corny but instantly believable.
Monster Truck – watching from the wings – will likely never reach the headline act’s level of popularity and commercial power. But the ‘other Canadian band’ on the bill would never be seen dead singing something as crass as Something In Your Mouth. And that’s what makes Nickelback such an enduring enigma. Monster Truck might be too cool for school but when it comes to the world of arena rock Nickelback are the head boys. This was a lesson is perfectly assured showmanship.
Images by Gordon Armstrong and John Burrows