In concert: Nickelback at Verizon Center
By Dave McKenna
Military vehicles and all sorts of fatigue clad personnel were stationed throughout the city Tuesday night. The show of force was related to the summit at the convention center, where world leaders had gathered to discuss ending the spread of nuclear weapons. For a while now, pop critics and hard rock purists have behaved as if they'd like to use the nuclear option on the band performing a few blocks to the south at the Verizon Center. That would be Nickelback.
Since breaking out of Alberta, Canada in 2000, Nickelback has paved the middle of the road in hard rock with a string of singles that have, well, similar structures - an expose on the band's nearly identical hits, "This Is How You Remind Me" and "Someday," became an internet phenomenon in 2005. There is also an aura of harmlessness to the typical Nickelback tune, despite the loud guitars and big drums and occasionally racy ("Something In Your Mouth") and pro-debauchery lyrical themes ("Rockstar").
Yet the band's output has consistently wowed radio programmers everywhere and incited a uniform "cha-ching" sound from cash registers: Nickelback has sold more than 30 million albums and headlined several massive tours, thereby earning the "Band of the Decade" award from Billboard a few months ago. Frontman Chad Kroeger even got an audience with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the PM's official residence in Ottawa over the weekend.
(Lots of explosions, plus more pictures after the jump.)
So let the naysayers say their nay. This quartet (Kroeger on vocals and guitar, Ryan Peake on guitar, Chad's brother Mike Kroeger on bass, and Daniel Adair on drums) ain't gonna change. The Verizon Center setlist was heavy with material from the most recent CD, 2008's "Dark Horse", including the stripper homage "Shakin' Hands," the sap-centric "If Today Was Your Last Day" and the Katy Perry-esque mega-smash, "Gotta Be Somebody." Among the visits to the 'Backers' back catalog: "Figured You Out" and "Too Bad."
Kroeger seemed more at peace with himself here than during previous tours. He dropped fewer cuss words and giggled less about sex this time around. He talked way too much about drinking - reminding fans about a dozen times how much he was enjoying the "Jack and Coke" he nursed throughout the night.
Perhaps because of the effects of the booze, Kroeger often steered the band away from the planned set so he could imitate Jon Bon Jovi, Axl Rose, Steven Tyler, and, best of all, Garth Brooks, with a studied rendition of "Friends in Low Places." (His affection for Brooks is particularly fitting, since Brooks made country music safe for non-country artists in the early 1990s just as Kroeger, who has written tunes recently for American Idol alums Daughtry and Bo Bice, has opened up the hard rock genre to any sap with a tattoo over the last decade.)
New and old songs alike were accompanied by the sort of pyrotechnics that have been all but lawyered out of existence since the Great White club fire: columns of flame constantly shot from the stage floor, and sparks rained down from the roof, and most songs ended with some flashpots and booms. Roadies armed with t-shirt guns fired swag into the grandstand as the band hit power chords.
Before leaving the stage, Kroeger yelled that he wanted folks to see "how Nickelback ends a show!" and an absurd number of explosions went off above and behind him. On this night, in this town, one could imagine a world where big bombs of any sort aren't used as crutches, for nations or rock and roll bands. It isn't hard to do.
April 14, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Nickelback
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