Last night Nickelback came to London. We couldn’t send a photographer (you can read about why), but one of our writers braved the delays caused by the controlled explosion at North Greenwich station, and reported back with his findings.
Monster Truck look good on the Big Stage
Opening for one of the biggest rock bands in the world is never going to be an easy task, especially for a band that are just a fraction of the size, but Monster Truck look at home on the dome’s big stage. Disappointingly, due to travel chaos in London, the amount of bodies on the floor is a little lacklustre, but riffing through the whiskey-stained big guns of Righteous Smoke and solid newie For The People (with Nickelback’s Ryan Peake joining for guitar duty) gets the blood flowing and feet moving in the half-full venue.
Chad Kroeger is surprisingly endearing
He might get a bad rap in rock music circles for being a bit boring and one-dimensional, but on stage he is charismatic, funny and genuinely likable. Despite being a stadium rock band, the patter isn’t all “Scream for me London!” instead cracking silly jokes, making smalltalk, and drinking Jagermeister courtesy of the suited-and-booted booze supplier Bradley. In short, he makes being a rockstar look like fun, rather than a full-time job like some of Nickelback’s peers, and the girls on the front row are loving every second of The Chad. Not bad for a man once voted the ugliest man in rock.
They’ve captured the essence of Blackpool
Nickelback are known for their rowdy, over the top and explosive live shows, but tonight there’s a distinct lack of pyro – which is a bit of a shame. That said, the light show they’ve hauled over from Canada is like something from a Trekkie’s wildest dreams, timed with precision for each song in the 22-song set. They’re also flanked and towered over by giant screens, projecting different video packages throughout the night including hot rods, candles, protests and lightbulbs.
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Crowd participation is a high priority
As you’d expect with a stadium rock band, there are certain songs that just need that little something extra from the crowd. And London is more than happy to get involved. Whether it’s the obligatory clap-along, the swaying of phone lights, or getting two members of the audience up on stage to sing Rockstar – shout out to Ian in the Nirvana shirt for nailing it. Although, it was a little cringeworthy on Too Bad, with Chad declaring the song looks “really cool” when the crowd jumps and and down “with their devil horns”. C’mon Chad, we know what we’re doing here.
It might be a little too rehearsed
Try as they might to convey a message of ‘anything can happen at a Nickelback show’, the band are four days away from finishing a tour that started back in August – that’s a long-ass time to be playing the same set every night. And while they tell the O2 that they’re mixing the set up and going off-script, the orchestrated lightshow tells us otherwise, although the misjudged Don Henley and Big Wreck covers sucked the hard rock atmosphere out of the room. Maybe it is all improvised after all?