Nickelback review: Way too damn good | Music | Entertainment

Nickelback… are so strange to me. I don’t mean that in a cruel or derogatory way; literally.

The band first hit the scene in 1995, and proceeded to earn an 8x platinum record with Silver Side Up.

As the noughties arrived, they became a bit of a joke band. Not because of their music, or their actions, but rather – like Childish Gambino says – because of the internet. They became the butt of every mean joke or cheeky jab.

While they were performing at London’s O2 Arena on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, however, it was difficult to see them as anything other than one of the world’s biggest rock bands. 

The Canadian icons know exactly what their product is, and they sell it extremely well.

Nickelback’s entire setlist was full of their greatest hits. From Savin’ Me, Far Away, Someday, Because of You, How You Remind Me, and plenty more, no fan could have been disappointed with the night’s run of songs.

And they didn’t begrudge playing their oldest, best-loved songs either. In fact, frontman Chad Kroeger was positively giddy throughout the entire night. Alongside the rest of the band – Ryan Peake, Mike Kroeger and Daniel Adair – Chad cracked jokes, encouraged his bass player to take his shirt off, and poked fun at the band’s absurd legacy. And they did it all with infectious smiles.

It helped, of course, that they were flawless performers. From Photograph to Animals, they delved into every available genre they had in their repertoire and did so excellently. Many bands would have lost some of their edge or flair after almost 30 years in the industry, but these rockers felt just as good as they were in the mid-90s.

There was frustration within the performance, though. The worst part of the band’s set was a cover song – Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger (no, really). Bringing up support act The Lottery Winners, Nickelback played the quintessentially British song to encourage a rowdy singalong – and, to their credit, it worked. But they didn’t need it. The night, overall, would have been a more full experience without a lowly cover song.

With that said, what struck me hardest about Nickelback’s show was the effect they had on their audience. Rarely have I seen so many people out of their seats, in the aisles of every row, dancing, laughing, throwing cowboy hats. It was perhaps the biggest gig I’ve ever attended that felt more like a festival.

Here’s where I find Nickelback so strange, though: They are obviously – to me – at this point, a stadium-level band. They have the popularity, they have the songs, they have the charm, and they certainly have the budget… but their performance – as it stands – has reached its ceiling.

Musically – again – Nickelback were really flawless. But it ultimately felt like they could have been playing at Camden’s Underworld or the Eventim Apollo and nothing would have changed. Where was the showmanship? The creativity? The production value in the staging? There was certainly some interesting (obviously AI-created) footage on the backdrop screens, but nothing else that screamed “arena performance”.

But, maybe I’m looking at it wrong. Maybe this level is what Nickelback want? Sure, they could (definitely) play bigger shows at Wembley and sell more tickets and be forced to put on firework displays and hire pyro technicians and costume changes… but why would they?

When the music is legitimately that good, the fans are that intensely passionate, they sell out every performance /and/ they can still look into the whites of the eyes of their audience, why would they change anything up?

I can’t see it happening.

Listen to Nickelback on Amazon Music Unlimited here.

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