Nickelback @ Genting Arena, 10 May 2018

Canadian rock band Nickelback has had a long tenure creating well-loved music. With more than twenty years in the game, the group has curated a unique sound that is distinctively Nickelback. On the Feed the Machine Tour, the band had the difficult job of crafting a setlist that highlights their top hits across an expanse of albums and yet at the Genting Arena they seemed to master the task. Playing songs across their discography and including of course the fan favourites, Nickleback crafted a party atmosphere with high punches of sound and pure rock talent.

As a countdown clock ticks excitement grows, a palpable electricity running through the audience dressed like a mass black amoeba. The time ticks down, 3…2…1, and the faces of Nickelback flash onto a giant projector. A brief narrative of the band flashes before the audience, a biographical account of their journey so far. It ends and the lights flash, a red mechanical apparatus appears on stage, and the music begins.

Starting with ‘Feed the Machine’ and ‘Woke Up This Morning’ Nickelback infuses the dead air with rock licks, a sort of battle cry of sound that pumps the room with energy. It is the opening that you would expect from the band, known for crafting songs that balance sentimentality with rock elements the opening numbers strike that safe balance and clearly enthuse the crowd. Sentimental ‘Photograph’ is enhanced as band photos dance across the screen, an homage to the years of touring and life together. The band has truly created a sort of familial feel, noted both in the images plastered onto the screen as well as in the bits in between songs in which band members share stories and recall moments of their history.

A double shot of alternative rock comes with ‘Far Away’ and ‘Something in Your Mouth,’ followed by an insane drum solo and fan favourite ‘Someday. Suddenly the stage darkens and the band exits, a few minutes later the band returns along with a massive piano that is wheeled into the middle of the stage. Taking a sort of acoustic break, although the drums and electric guitar still fill in sonically, the band seeps into ‘Lullaby,’ the keys filling with sweet melodic waves.

The lull in energy is quickly broken, the piano exits and drinks appear. As Nickelback takes a short drink break the melody of ‘Figured Out’ comes forth; the rock song about sex has a hint of commerciality that infuses the song with an almost pop style. The sonic elements continue as psychedelic rock ‘Leader of Men’ mashes with ‘Million Miles an Hour.’

Then comes the moment of the night that many fans dream of. Before breaking into the next song Nickelback invites two fans onto the stage, aiding in the singing of ‘Rockstar.’ It is a quaint, smile inducing moment as you see two fans interact with their heroes. Social justice bent ‘When We Stand Together’ is followed by ‘She Keeps Me Up’ before the night takes a bit of a turn. Nickelback decides to step away from their usual set list, allowing fans to request the next songs. The fans scream in hopeful hysteria, ultimately yielding to the choice of ‘Hero’ and ‘Side of a Bullet,’ a song that hasn’t been played live since 2007. The set finally ends with ‘Animals’ and ‘How You Remind Me’ with an encore including ‘Gotta Be Somebody’ and ‘Burn It to the Ground.’

Nickelback is an interesting mixture; perhaps one of the few rock star bands their attitude is nonchalant and entertaining, seemingly juxtaposed from their apparent love and adoration of their fans. On the Feed the Machine Tour, Nickelback curated a set that reached deep into their history, exploring the sound of the band through the ages. The show was not stale, as some mulit-album shows can be, but rather Nickelback delivered a wildly entertaining and immersive show continuing to pump rock tunes into the hearts of their fandom.

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

Photographer: Neale Hayes

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