Nickelback / Daughtry, Newcastle Arena

Nickelback (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[All pictures of both bands available on Flickr here: Daughtry / Nickelback]

Alright, let’s get this clear. Yes, I went to a Nickelback gig. No, I don’t care what you think. I am aware there was a Rock Radio reunion party and a Soulfly gig on in Glasgow on the same night, but those tickets went on sale after the Newcastle Arena ones for Nickelback. I still don’t get why they couldn’t fit in a date at the SECC to save me £70 in petrol, but hey.

Due to the distance, we got there around half seven – just in time to see the tail end of Daughtry. I’ve never heard of them, or the guy the band is named after, but apparently he’s a raging success after coming 4th in American Idol. That alone would have been enough to put me off him had I not seen the band perform first. Would I rush out and buy all their material? No. Would I turn the songs off if they came on the radio? Also no. Not bad, certainly talented, but just not raising the right neck-hairs for me.

Oh, around three minutes after we got there I had a nice, polite young lady in a yellow shirt telling me to put my camera away as the Nickelback production crew had insisted nobody was to take photos of the performance. I understood her position and she obviously wasn’t in agreement with it, so we moved somewhere into the crowd where nobody would be able to tap me on the shoulder. Seriously, in this day and age? Wake up, “Nickelback’s production crew”, you’re not losing any money from a few fans putting shots up on Twitter or wherever.

While I’m whinging, and before I get to the good stuff, I’d also like to mention that if you’re going to light a cigarette in a venue in the UK, please remember that a) it stinks, b) not to do it anywhere near me and c) it’s actually illegal and can have you fined and ejected. That message for the stupid bint behind me who at least ditched it when I told her quite firmly to do so. Also, petal, go and see a dentist. The smell coming over my shoulder from you was like someone trying to disguise chronic halitosis with cheap perfume and half a kilo of Floral Gums.

The Arena was packed, as far as I could tell, and the headliners came on around 9pm. Going for the “impressive light show” style of performance, they were never going to hit the visual heights of Rammstein (who the hell can?) but they probably used enough wattage to light up the moon had this been an open-air venue. The two drop-screens at the side catered for those at the back of the venue while the three large strip screens behind the stage alternated between choreographed footage, effects and live images as the show progressed. Impressive stuff.

Nickelback (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Despite putting on such a huge show, the band themselves don’t really come across as rock and roll “stars” in the way that some “larger-than-life” characters like Slash or Motley Crue often do. They seem more down to earth, interested in playing music and talking to the audience rather than using the stage as some kind of ego-boosting platform. Certainly, the banter was amusing and became slightly more sweary as the evening wore on and Chad downed more shots!

You could never say “all the hits were present” when you have a back-catalogue littered with top ten singles the way Nickelback do, especially when they’re obliged to play material off a new album. Many recognisable tunes were belted out, though, and in my personal view the best were saved for last with the set ending on a particularly good high.

Shouts were encouraged from the audience and there was much punching of the air and waving of devil horns as choruses kicked in. The guitar tech (well, the younger brother of the old one who’s gone off to seek his own fortune) was brought on stage to play a couple of songs, Daughtry joined them for a while, and beer was flung into the crowd along with the famous t-shirt cannons being used to distribute some free merchandise. This, as a rock and roll show, ticked all of the boxes.

Certainly when the last notes died out and the lights came up, the time seemed to have flown. As we walked out into the chilly night (unable to retrieve a ticket for my collection – who do they collect the damn things in? Why? I am missing two tickets from my collection, both from this venue!), Gillian was bouncing and we both reckoned it was worth the trip down.

So to all the “haters”: grow up. Are Nickelback commercially successful? Of course. Are they sell-outs? I don’t think so. I just don’t get why some people will heap loathing onto this Canadian band while going on about how great the Foo Fighters are. Both bands play similar types of music to similar audiences. Open your ears, watch a show and enjoy the entertainment. I’ll always prefer something heavier – Nickelback, to me, will never put on as good a show as Slipknot, Rammstein or Slayer for instance – but that doesn’t stop them being great fun for those ninety minutes.

Just next time, guys… play Glasgow, eh?

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