Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nickelback - March 5, 2007

As a Christmas present to my stepdaughter, my wife and I bought tickets for a spring concert at the Continental Airlines Arena (now the IZOD Center) to see Nickelback with Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin. On a cold Monday evening in March, we trudged forth to see the show.

I had never heard of Breaking Benjamin and I only knew a couple of Three Days Grace songs, but I was curious to see what these bands in front of Nickelback were going to be able to do. I didn’t have high expectations for Nickelback. I thought they would put on a decent show, but nothing that was going to blow me away. This wasn’t going to be a Kiss or Iron Maiden extravaganza.

Breaking Benjamin opened and proceeded to stun. Their performance was tight and well rehearsed. Their songs were audible and rocking. A lot of times the opening band(s) has trouble being heard or understood as the microphones and instruments are being tuned and tweaked. Kudos to the sound guys on this tour, because Breaking Benjamin sounded stellar from the opening notes of their 30-minute performance. The band did so well that I went out and got a copy of their latest at the time, Phobia.

Three Days Grace was next, and I missed most of their set due to my stepdaughter’s desire to walk around the arena. She had never been there before and she wanted a souvenir. Then we ran into a friend who was celebrating her birthday, so of course we had to stop and chat (and buy her a birthday beer).

By the time we got back inside, Three Days Grace was in the middle of Pain and they only had two more songs after that. From what little I saw of them, they seemed impressive. Heavy, moody, alternative rock.

Nickelback took the stage promptly at 8:45 pm. They opened with Animals and the concert was off and running from that point forward. Nickelback was supporting All The Right Reasons, which had sold over 5 million copies by then. They were in the midst of a rather long world tour, and this was the home stretch.

The band sounded incredible. The months of touring had their show honed to a science. Every note was clean, every lyric crisp. These guys knew their set inside and out and put on an amazing performance for their New Jersey fans.

Chad Kroeger is actually a great front man. He interacts with the crowd, tells some funny stories, teases a bit, and even brought beer for everyone. At one point during their show, a wagon full of beer cups was bought out onto the stage and individual beers were handed (or thrown) into the audience that was sitting close to the stage. I was very amused by this and thought it was a neat trick.

Nickelback played nothing but hits from their three major label released albums. Photograph, Someday, Too Bad, How You Remind Me, Far Away, and Rockstar were all present and accounted for. The ballads they played went over well and were mixed in with the heavier songs at just the right pace.

Halfway through their set, they got ready to sing Side of a Bullet and dedicated it to the late, great, Dimebag Darrell, who Chad was close with. He described his emotions after he had heard the news, and he told the audience what Dimebag meant to him and the band. It was a touching moment and the live performance of Side of a Bullet was a nice one.

The band closed the night with Figured You Out and received a well deserved, strong, roaring ovation from the crowd. The sold-out show was an amazing one. Nickelback more than impressed me, I was humbled. They were able to compete with the likes of Iron Maiden and Kiss. They weren’t quite at that level yet, but they were climbing fast and holding their own.

Most critics dismiss them as “corporate rock,” but to me, a band’s biggest strength is their ability to connect with their fans. Nickelback, due in part to the charm of front man Chad Kroeger, were able to do that effortlessly. They went heavy on the hits, knew them inside and out, and performed them with a purpose – win more fans over. It worked. I went and got the one Nickelback disc that I didn’t own after this concert (the next day, I believe).

Giving an amazing performance that impressed the whole family, Nickelback was certainly well liked in our house. And the chances that we will see them again are high.

Woke Up This Morning
Because Of You
Far Away
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (Elton John cover)
If Everyone Cared
Never Again
Savin’ Me
Side Of A Bullet
Flat On The Floor
How You Remind Me
Too Bad
Figured You Out

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