Nickelback circus comes to Vancouver, featuring a big-ass bra, booze, and ballsy music
At Rogers Arena on Tuesday, June 26
It’s hard to imagine how Nickelback’s latest Vancouver appearance could have possibly been more over-the-top. From ludicrous theatrics to baffling shifts in mood and a flagrant disregard for anything resembling good taste, it was closer to a circus than a rock show, something that was clearly just fine with the adoring fans, who lapped up every second of the spectacle.
The evening began in appropriately overblown fashion with My Darkest Days, whose ultrasexual hard rock songs and shrill demands to “make some fucking noise” verged on self-parody.
In stark contrast to this comical crowd rallying, Seether followed with a straight-laced selection of loud, angst-ridden tunes. This was utterly forgettable until the final moments, when frontman Shaun Morgan smashed his guitar to smithereens.
The last of the openers was Bush, and although the band’s '90s heyday is long behind it, singer Gavin Rossdale injected some life into the proceedings by running into the crowd and spending two songs circling the entire arena without missing a note.
The warm-up acts took a full three hours, but once Nickelback finally arrived on stage, it aimed for instant gratification with a pyrotechnic-assisted run-through of the brawny recent single “This Means War”. Within minutes, the room was scorching hot and smelled faintly of fuel, but the rising temperature didn’t stop the very clean-cut Chad Kroeger from prowling to the back of the stage while towers of flame rose up terrifyingly just a few feet from his head.
When he wasn’t bellowing out exaggeratedly masculine anthems against a backdrop of fire, Kroeger spent much of the set fixated on alcohol. This included bragging about the hangover he was sure to have the next morning and coaxing his bandmates into joining him in repeated rounds of shots from plastic yellow cups, a practice he insisted was “mandatory".
Shortly after singing “Happy Birthday” to bassist Mike Kroeger midway through the set, Nickelback abandoned the main stage only to re-emerge on a smaller, circular platform in the middle of the arena floor.
Cables descending from the ceiling then raised this stage dizzyingly up into the air, and the band played “Bottoms Up” and “Animals” while hanging 20-odd feet above the fans, who were naturally going apeshit. If Kroeger and company didn’t already seem like larger-than-life rock gods, this stunt definitely did the trick, although there was a slight drum hiccup when the stage began descending back to earth—the only flub in an otherwise technically meticulous show.
Things only got more absurd from there. Once the four musicians returned to the front of the room, they ushered some friends and crew members on stage in order to fire off T-shirt cannons and fling full cups of beer into the crowd. During this peculiar interlude, the band briefly jammed on Young MC’s “Bust a Move” while one of its buddies showed off his silliest dance moves.
Then, bizarrely, a piano was carted out for the sombre ballad “Lullaby”, the sentiment of which was completely undermined by the hedonism that immediately preceded it. Shortly after that, timekeeper Daniel Adair was left alone on stage for an extended drum solo, which was as technically proficient as it was self-indulgent and completely unnecessary.
During the encore, one female fan showed her appreciation for the performance by flinging an undergarment to the front. Kroeger crassly joked that the “big-ass bra” was the size of a “military grade tent” before hanging it like a trophy between his two mic stands and capping off the 90-minute set with “Figured You Out”, which was perhaps the most pornographic of the night’s many macho tunes. I probably don’t even need to tell you how it ended: with deafening explosions, yet more shots of liquor, and roars of approval from the evidently satisfied faithful.