If you forgot that Nickelback is still an arena-selling rock band then they’re here to remind you. The Canadian quartet packed out Phoenix’s Footprint Center last week for a raucous show that drew a crowd of all ages.
Country rapper Brantley Gilbert opened the show and had hands and beer glasses raised to the sky for his irreverent but energetic set. Flanked by his band, walls of pyrotechnics and plenty of cameras, Gilbert threw “My Kinda Party”. His time onstage had the people up and moving to all his down south hits and he even threw in some unexpected covers- think Godsmack and Korn for a twist. After a rowdy good time, Gilbert exited, leaving the crowd properly amped up for the headliner.
Astonishingly, people still think the Canadian-born Nickelback is from the American South and the group has allowed that to help them fill arenas for decades. They’ve had enormous commercial success in that timeframe, perfectly indicated by the wall of cheering that accompanied each new song in the setlist.
Drawing several tracks from 2005’s smash hit album All the Right Reasons, vocalist Chad Kroeger’s low rasp mirrored their recordings to perfection. The frontman was all smiles and jokes with his bandmates and the audience and, despite the size of the venue, the show felt more like a backyard barbecue in the sweltering summer heat.
Nickelback had everyone on their feet when openers Josh Ross and Brantley Gilbert reappeared with various members of their bands for a tour-wide cover of “Copperhead Road”. It was then time for the meme-worthy hit “Photograph” before the band pulled one lucky lady onstage for “Rockstar” karaoke with the guys.
From the pit to the nosebleeds, fans showed the band the very best of Arizona’s hospitality and cheered their loudest when the night concluded with “How You Remind Me” before a brief but epic encore. Those still making fun of Nickelback should get themselves to the gig- the energy and sincerity might come as a welcome surprise.
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Story and photos by Olivia Khiel