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In concert: Nickelback at Verizon Center

nickelbackNickelback: The song remains the same, and Chad Kroeger and his bandmates are just fine with that. (All photos by Jahi Chikwendiu/TWP)

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.




By David Malitz  |  April 14, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Nickelback  
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was at the concert last night. left 1/4 way into set. sat in section 402. sound HORRIBLE. couldn't hear singing. just drums and guitar and reverb. and, three opening bands??? if i would of known that i wouldn't of left work early. concert started at 630 and they don't come on til 9? my bf was so looking forward to the show.

Posted by: kimmyjay1999 | April 14, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I hope you got paid triple your usual salary to attend this monstrosity.

Posted by: azaghal1981 | April 14, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Fire the Sound Engineer!!! I love Nickelback's music and couldn't wait for this concert, but what a dissapointment... I ended up walking out before it was over; Not because of the band or the special effects, but that was the worst sound engineering ever. What I'm sure could have been a fantastic show was ruined by the boards which obviously were not set properly for the venue. It was just painful mess to listen to. I've been to some great concerts at the Verizon Center over the years, but this was definitely at the bottom.

Posted by: duffman471 | April 14, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I was on the floor for this concert, and the sound was the best I have ever heard at Verizon, so it is a pity that some seats do not get good sound. The show was one of Nickelback's best, with every song a fan favorite. Nickelback always turns their concert into a party for the fans, with great music, great lighting and pyro effects and lots of funny comments. Even though this tour has been running for over 16 months, the band changed the set list quite a lot since they were in the area last summer. The concert was also a mini- rock festival, with three opening bands, two of which have big chart hits. Nickelback is a band of regular guys, in jeans and tee shirts, singing songs everyone can relate to. I would never miss the chance to see Nickelback live.

Posted by: Diamond_mine | April 14, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I was not at the show but was relieved to see that Chad Kroger's wet dog hair-do has been replaced by a smooth, shampooey coif. Baby steps.

Posted by: ChrisRichards | April 14, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I was there too - directly across the Verizon Center from the stage. The base was heavy and the vocals were hard to hear; but this was a ROCK concert after all!...I certainly would not have left early because of that! Good grief! If you know the music, then you know the words...and you are singing along! It was a great show and the only disappointment for us was that Breaking Benjamin only did 5 songs...I suppose because of the equipment problems they had. As for the fact that the concert started at 6:30 and Nickelback played at 9...that's the way a concert with opening bands always works - next time call the Verizon Center in advance, like I did, to find out the schedule of the bands playing so you know when you want to arrive. Shinedown was great too!

Posted by: tsstandard | April 14, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

i go to concerts to listen to music not experience base. i can do that at home and save myself the trip into DC. attended a linkin park concert in the past that was AWESOME. great sound, great show, no complaints. nickelback has disappointing to say the least. and, what's up with the endless prattling about nonsensical crap?

Posted by: kimmyjay1999 | April 15, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I really enjoyed the show; I had no problem with the sound. I was in Sec 102, I know people who sat in 402 and they told me it was awesome. It's all in what you came for, it's a rock concert with 4 bands what time did you think they would come on? Have you been to a rock show before? Oh well, each is entitled to their own opinion, and my opinion is, I thought it was Awesome!

Posted by: jojomcg | April 16, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

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