Nickelback have to be one of the most divisive bands in rock music history. Whilst they’ve sold millions of records over the last 15+ years and are constantly playing arenas that most bands dream of being able to play, they’re still met with so much contention and hate on the internet (haters on the internet? Who would’ve thought?). I’ve always approached the band with a certain level of indifference, not a hater, nor a fan, just someone who has never really given them much attention. With that said, I never quite understood where all the hate came from. Walking into Rod Laver Arena on Friday night, I was very intrigued to see if my opinions would change for better or worse.
Bad Wolves opened the evening’s proceedings well with a tonne of energy. Frontman Tommy Vext obviously has no issue when it comes to crowds of this size, and it shows. He sang incredibly and really riled up the crowd from the get-go. Some of Bad Wolves original tracks really got lost in the arena given their complex and technical arrangements, but that didn’t stop the crowd from going wild. Closing out their set with their famed cover of The Cranberries classic ‘Zombie’ was a nice touch, if not a little cliché.
The house lights went down and the screens behind the stage erupted with red and black visuals. Nickelback certainly know how to make an entrance. Jumping straight into ‘Feed The Machine’, it was very clear that the band wasn’t messing around. Enormous riffs, huge hooks and absolutely savage drumming from Daniel Adair. I was immediately blown away. That feeling only continued throughout their set. It’s funny really, I’ve never listened to a Nickelback record in full in my life but I knew at least 80% of the songs in their set, which really cements how popular and well known they are as a band.
These boys are no strangers to arenas, they’ve been packing them out for almost two decades now so they know that bringing anything less than their A game isn’t an option. Frontman Chad Kroeger sang well, played like a demon and his banter between songs had the crowd cheering as loud as they possibly could which isn’t really an easy job when you’re performing to over 10,000 audience members.
The setlist had everything that you’d want from a Nickelback show: high octane, riff driven tracks like ‘Animals’, ‘Something In Your Mouth’ and ‘Figured You Out’ got fists pumping, heartfelt ballads like ‘Far Away’ and ‘Hero’ got phone lights swaying and people singing along. It was a perfectly dynamic set that flowed effortlessly from start to finish. Closing out their main set with breakout hit ‘How You Remind Me’ was a bit on the nose, but very expected. I do wish that the band had dived a bit further into their latest release Feed The Machine given it being the namesake of the tour, but playing a set compiled of hit after hit ensured that every audience member got their money’s worth.
So, here’s the thing: Nickelback are stellar performers that play well written songs for the masses. Each member is a gun at their instrument and their production is on a level unobtainable to the wide majority of rock bands. I know that internet loves to jump on the bandwagon and take the piss out of these rock heroes, but sitting in that arena amongst thousands of exceptionally passionate fans, it was evident that the praise completely outweighs the hate. I walked out of the venue elated and beyond impressed. Job well done, fellas.