Few bands in the history of modern rock are as polarizing as Nickelback. Fresh from a string of shows in Japan, the Canadian four-piece landed in Australia for their Feed the Machine tour. On Wednesday night, Chad Kroeger and co kicked things off at Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre.
Playing to a full house, the band made the 15,000-strong arena feel as intimate as a large club. The room dims and light fills the stage before the band launch into a heavy riff. After a few bars, they stop and Kroeger raises his arms, the crowd cheering them on. Nickelback are now properly ready to rock.
The quartet set the agenda early, opening the night with “Feed the Machine” and “Woke Up This Morning.” After a song or two, Kroeger begins a mini-monologue. It’s often funny and sometimes self-deprecating, but the onus was on the crowd to enjoy themselves.
Classics like “Photograph” and “Far Away” are the show’s early highlights. For the latter, Kroeger utilizes two microphones on stage, including one that replicates the loudhailer effect heard on the record. The former, however, sees the band break out an acoustic guitar, bringing about the evening’s first sing-along.
After a Spinal Tap-esque gag, in which Kroeger confuses Brisbane with Sydney, the frontman lets the crowd in on some wise words from Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee that changed his songwriting life. According to Lee, if you can get one song from every album on high rotation on a strip club playlist, you’re set for life.
That, apparently, spurred Kroeger to write “Something in Your Mouth.” The bulk of the audience erupt with laughter and cheer, while the rest of us wonder if the joke bodes ill for music’s #MeToo movement.
Soon, Kroeger and guitarist Ryan Peake are doing shots on stage. And by the time “Where Do I Hide” comes around, the scruffy vocalist good-naturedly advises those who’d like to join in on the chorus to do so, and those who don’t “go outside and buy a fucking shirt.” The singer also pokes fun at his own bad hair days, pointing out fans in the crowd who have turned up wearing Kroeger wigs.
More shots are taken, the lyrics become more questionable (“Figured You Out”) and the gig turns into a Kroeger and Peake comedy show. At one point, a guy in the crowd named “Lindsay” offers up his white Nikes and urges Kroeger to do a “shoey” (an Australian ritual of drinking beer from a shoe). With encouragement from the crowd, the singer agrees to down a Red Bull and Jäger concoction before inviting Lindsay up on stage to do the same, but to drink from the frontman’s leather boot.
Soon, it’s back to the music. “When We Stand Together” is another communal moment, the roar of the audience matching the intensity of the band. The whole shebang closes off with their 2008 Dark Horse single, “Burn it to the Ground.”
Yes, Nickelback are unquestionable veterans of rock music. But future leaders of a tasteful, politically correct world? Not likely.
Contributed by: Sean Sennett