The fact is that Nickelback was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. It was definitely in the top five. That would put it in good company along with Van Halen, ZZ Top, and INXS. So what makes a good concert? For me its all about the show. There are some artist who are really good in the studio or on a CD but not so good on stage. I’ve been to concerts where the headliner was outshined by the opening act. A good show includes multimedia, an engaged dialog with the audience and a good performance. Nickelback had all those elements.
The performance was great. I am a new fan of Nickelback but I knew all the songs that they played. They played a couple songs off the new album and then went back to their earlier work. The lead singer sang clearly. He used two microphones. The second mic was used for songs with any reverb or other effect. This allowed him to sing all the vocals live and not rely on any taped content. The performance was flawless. Near the end of the show was a 10-minute drum solo that included the drummer being raise up on a rotating platform.
Chad Kroeger engaged the audience. It’s typical for a band to shout out the city’s name. He was aware of the weather issues. He made fun of the scent of the audience and a bag of “oregano” that some one threw on stage, “yeah, I want to spend the night in jail with you”. He also made fun of a flasher in the front row because she chose to flash him during a serious ballad instead of waiting for a more appropriate song. At one point he introduced some of the crew to come out and fire t-shirt cannon s at the audience. You could tell that everyone was just out there having fun.
The bad definitely had a handle on the multimedia. They used a huge screen in the center of stage to project video, pictures, animations that were relevant and timed to the music. During the song Photograph her show what must have been actual pictures from his high school. They were presented as part of a large mosaic where one picture is made up of many smaller pictures. The animation moved smoothly from picture to picture, sometimes zooming in, sometimes zooming out. At another part of the concert the screen was covered with 70’s era TVs stacked up at odd angles. On each TV was projected parts of the current concert. Some of the screens were sharp while other were snowy. The effect was very interesting.
It wasn’t just video. The stage featured six saucer-like light rigs that could go up and down and rotate. They were constantly moving to the music and changing color. Also on stage were some sort of flame throwers that were able to blast fire into the air. There was a spark-generator from the ceiling that made it look like it was raining light. There were smoke generators for one part of the show. There were fireworks right on stage. In fact the concert started with a bang.
Negatives? The one big negative for me was the foul language. I wasn’t going into this show expecting it to be PG. Frankly I was surprised that my wife wanted to go in the first place — wasn’t my idea. I expected there to be rough language just like their music. Chad Kroeger surpassed my expectations. He managed to use the “F” word at least once per sentence. Sometimes more. A PG version of the concert would be at least a half hour shorter. Nickelback has some really good songs that would be just as good without the profanity.
The opening acts for this concert were Saving Abel and Seether. I’ve barely heard of either group. A search of my iTunes library shows that I own songs from Seether that I like. I wasn’t really impressed by Saving Abel. It looked like they only had about 3 foot of stage. They came on and only played six or seven songs. It wasn’t bad but there wasn’t much to see.
Seether on the other hand could have warranted a concert in their own right except for one critical problem – the weather. Superpages.com Center is an open venue. We had the cheap seats out on the lawn. The weather forecast called for clear skies with rain coming the next day. Just as Seether was taking the stage it began to rain. At this point I was resigned to getting wet. The rain fell in big solitary drops but it was not too bad. Then the lightning started. First it was 5 seconds away. Then 2 seconds away. Then it was instantaneous. Rain is one thing but sitting out in a lightning storm on a hill is suicide. I told my group we were heading for the car until the cell passed. I scooped up the kids and blankets and headed towards the gate. About this time is began to hail. I was not listening to the concert at this point. Over the gate was a big sign “No Re-entry”. We changed direction and headed for the main part of the theater under the roof. A lone usher tried to hold back my group and another 5,000 people who all had the same life-preserving thoughts. We easily walked half way down and found a place to stand under the cover. Seether is still playing during all of this but I have no idea what. I’m checking my iPhone to see a current weather map to see how much more of the storm remained. Two cells passed, mainly to the west of us. It was still raining when I took my party back to the grassy knoll to retain our original now-soaked patch of grass. And so ended Seether’s performance.
The sky cleared and the air grew cooler by the time Nickelback came on stage. Chad Kroeger commented that it had even stopped F-ing raining. Naturally he did not abbreviate. He did invite the lead signer from Seether, Shaun Morgan up on state to sing “Nice Shot”. It was really good and probably some indication of what we had missed.
The concert venue was good although the beer prices were ridiculous: $16 for a margarita, $9 for a beer, $4 for a small coke. The security was a joke. They had kids with metal detectors but I could not tell if they were actually looking. Cameras, Umbrellas, Coolers were all prohibited yet I saw them all. I guess concert venues have given up on the no camera rule as long as you are not there with an SLR and a mega zoom.
So, it was a good concert. it was surely one that my kids will remember, for the good and the bad. The audience was an interesting mix of teenagers to 40-year-olds. I’d see Nickelback again should the opportunity arise.