Truly natural rock n roll raconteurs are, it seems, a dying breed. Once upon a time frontmen with wit and wisdom, as well as the tunes, were a dime a dozen but in 2012 it’s all about attitude, angst and acting aloof.
Thank God, therefore, for Chad Kroeger. And who ever believed they’d read that in a RUSHONROCK review?
Where so many peers pander to modern trends and hollow fashions good old Chad is the polar opposite. Forest fires sweeping California are frequently cooler than the original dad rocker but that’s just part of his enduring charm.
Even hooking up with Avril Lavigne to create rock’s most unlikely couple hasn’t done much for Kroeger’s street cred (in fact it’s probably seen him plunge even further towards the foot of the coolometer) but this middle-aged guitar hero with dyed hair and impeccable dental work doesn’t care one jot.
And it’s that single-minded, f**k the haters, fun-loving approach – underpinned by the best banter you’ll hear on an arena stage this side of a John Bishop show – that ensures Nickelback sell out absolutely everywhere they go all of the time.
As far as this website is concerned the band has got form. Alberta’s finest blew Newcastle away the last time they rolled into Tyneside with more trucks than an LDV Vans convention. It was one of the gigs of the year, a triumph of substance over style or style over substance – depending upon where you stand on the Canadians as songwriters and showmen supreme.
Surely a repeat performance was asking too much? Not according to support Chris Daughtry who, just days earlier, had reinforced the view that Nickelback remain the hottest rock ticket on the live music circuit.
The reality TV hopeful turned multi-million selling soft rock hero did his bit to build the atmosphere with a succinct set designed to finally announce Daughtry the band to a hitherto unconvinced UK market. On this evidence expect sold-out Academy shows and a Shinedown-esque breakthrough in 2013.
Daughtry joined Kroeger for a belting rendition of Rock Star midway through the headline set – evoking memories of Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson joining Nickelback for a gutsy rendition of Highway To Hell in 2009. And that’s another reason why fans and fellow musos hold one of corporate rock’s key players in such high esteem – where this band is concerned there are no airs or graces, there’s no prima donna pouting and a Nickelback show is meant to be one long, loud party.
Just listen to the songs! Bottom’s Up and Something In Your Mouth are akin to Steel Panther at their silliest but Nickelback know it. Every tune comes replete with beaming smiles, boundless energy and that famous mid-song banter. Kroeger is no Michael McIntyre but he knows how to work a crowd, relate to his audience and create an intimacy often lacking in the vacuous arena environment.
There’s nothing oblique, cerebral, innovative or deep about your average Nickelback song. Go see Rush, Maiden or even Metallica if you want your rock packaged with thought-provoking lyrics and progressive twists. Nickelback is all about the here and now, comforting simplicity and a life-affirming confirmation that a Friday night in Newcastle is still about having a beer with your best mates against the backdrop of singalong live music.
That an evening with Chad and the boys just happens to include an eye-splitting light show, carefully choreographed backdrop, stage crew cameos and that legendary craic simply enhances the perfect arena event. Nickelback were made for venues like this and nights like this: for those who continue to poke fun at their no-frills hits – the joke is on you.