Okay, okay…I realise that with this review I may be opening myself up to a whole host of issues but I’m going to do it anyway. Why? With a support act straight from the loins of the devil incafrnate that is Simon Cowell and, of course, a headliner that seems to be universally slated by rock fans perhaps the only way to redeem myself is by reviewing the show in the same way as the gentleman sat next to me (whose review is currently on the website of a national newspaper). Yeah, that will work – the music world will see me as a witty, erudite journo with great music taste and the ability to run with the big dogs. There might, however, be a couple of problems with this plan.
Problem 1 – Daughtry. Fronted by Chris Daughtry who, perhaps fortuitously for him, finished fourth in the fifth series of “American Idol” the band that share his name are now touring in support of album number three. Each of the records has blended his amazing rock voice with a harder edge rock sound than the majority of Cowells clone band formula followers (it still makes me laugh that Louis Walsh got Westlife to release Daughtry’s “What About Now” and managed to sell fewer singles than the original in the same week!). The arena was muchy more full than usual for the support act – Daughtry the band clearly fit into a nice niche that will appeal to the millions (yes haters, millions) of Nickelback fans. They were not disappointed – a tight and punchy set that refelcted the light and shade from the Daughtry discography. As the set ended, Chris suggested that the badn would be back, in their own right, next year – I hope so…because I want to be there and I reckon that a whole, big bunch of the fans in the Manchester Arena will be there too!
Problem 2 – Nickelback! Now into their 17th year of existence, Nickelback have been dogged for years with nay-sayers who grumble about formulas, poppy-ness, sell out, Creed copyists and a seemingly never ending complaints/grumbles/hate comments that bang on about how we should not, ever, have these guys in our lives. Well, you know what? It’s a whole host of spherical objects!
From the outset, the Nickelback show focuses on the song. A good light show but no fancy costume changes and no massive delivery of smoke and mirrors (although I love pyros – bring them back next tour please?) – in fact the band all appeared dressed in that rock n roll uniform of black t-shirt and black jeans (Chad did have a bit of a costume change – he put on a fresh, black shirt!). A mutiltude of guitar changes might have seemed excessive to the uninitiated but each one refelcted different tones/tunings and made for a slick show.
Most importantly for me, here were four guys at the top of their game and thoroughly enjoying every last second of it. Amiably chatting to the crowd, enjoying a joke and a beer (beer thrown into the crowd along with a swift session with the t-shirt cannons) but never turning the songs into a joke.
Oh yeah, the songs. Sure they sing about sex, drugs, beer, sex and, er, beer…but guess what? Ain’t that what rock n roll is supposed to be about? Don’t the “Too Cool for School” reviewers and rock fans ever think that this could be the reason that the fans buy Nickelback albums by the truckload? You know, songs about stuff we ALL recognise and enjoy – I don’t know about you you but dragons and spaceships aren’t something that cross my path on a weekly basis.
Of course, thereby goes the important point – the fans. The Manchester Arena holds (according to Wikipedia) up to 19000 at a show set-up like tonight. That does include opening up the top tier and I can’t remember the last rock show I was at when that happened. It was tonight and to my eyes the place was full…full of happy, smiling, slightly boisterous Nickelback fans who all sang and chanted, danced and nodded along to every word and note.
Yes slick and polished. Yes they are a guilty pleasure (but only because the media tell us they are) but who doesn’t enjoy a really great evening of guilty pleasure? I for one am not and am more than happy to say I want more and will be at their next tour too. Make it soon boys – this was, without doubt one of the best shows of the year and Nickelback have grown to a whole new level in my eyes.
1. This Means War
2. Something in Your Mouth
3. Bottoms Up
5. Far Away
6. Too Bad
8. Trying Not to Love You
9. Rockstar (with Chris Daughtry)
12. This Afternoon
13. When We Stand Together
14. Figured You Out
15. How You Remind Me
16. Gotta Be Somebody
17. Burn It to the Ground
Nickelback’s latest album, “Here and Now”, is available now on Roadrunner records.
Review by David Wilson
Photos by David Randall and Steve Gouldie