Nickelback's Long Road

Air Canada Centre
February 10, 2004
It was all about awing the audience for Alberta's Nickelback with tossing, taping and teasing last Wednesday night at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

The thrashing sound of three, out of 18 guitars I counted at stage left, opened the 90-minute set with Flat On The Floor from Nickelback's most recent album The Long Road.

A sold-out crowd, ranging drastically from 12-40 years old, bopped their heads along in a half head-bang style to hits mainly from the new album and 2001 release Silver Side Up. Most were on their feet throughout the entire show giving the three-fingered rock n' roll salute with flailing arms.

"I've dreamed of playing here (Air Canada Centre) all my life," hollered the 29-year-old lead singer, Chad Kroeger, to an audience who believed he could say no wrong, despite the fact Air Canada Centre opened just five years ago.

Bantering slip-ups and repetitive guitar riffs aside, this four-piece internationally successful band, with four albums beneath their belts, truly captivated the audience with a contrived 'rock n roll' style. Tossing water bottles, guitar picks and empty beer glasses into the first few rampant rows; jumping on risers high above the crowd, giving even the nose-bleeders a better view; and provoking a traditional roaring 'sing-a-long' to single Someday, while drowning out the pointlessly positioned background acoustic guitar.

Kroeger even led drummer Ryan Vikedal, bassist Mike Kroeger and guitarist Ryan Peake into a short rendition of Metallica's The Four Horsemen, teasing audience members outstretching a poster pleading for Nickelback's version of Nothing Else Matters.

I reminisced my Pink Floyd days with the techni-coloured lighting, startling fireworks and explosions, blazing flames and audio clips amidst a pitch black arena, while awaiting an enormous spinning disco ball to break through the ceiling and attack the audience.

But during Hero and Should've Listened it was back to tight jeans, t-shirts and cowboy boots when the band slowed the tempo down. The Kroeger brothers and Peake sat on stools center stage, an acoustic gracing each of their laps, while Vikedal lay back on drums upon his distant pedestal.

Audience interaction intensified again during Where Do I Hide from Silver Side Up, when Kroeger caught a camcorder tossed from side stage, breaking out into the crowd with a lap around the entire arena. With bodyguards at his heals he taped the live crowd for the band's next DVD release, closing it off on stage with a "1-2-3"countdown and collective "Toronto Fuckin' Rocks" wail.

The latest single Figured You Out followed suite, evoking just the rousing response Nickelback is looking for with its racy, sometimes vulgar, lyrics. After a beer break, Nickelback set in for the long haul bringing it to a close with Too Bad and Never Again, hinting they'd be hangin' at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern later on that night.

The encore? A predictable How You Remind Me, but never the less keeping the crowd on their toes, sucking them right back into the Nickelback nuance.

Writer: Sophie Nicholls

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