At the tail end of my U.S. trip, I flew in to Houston to see Nickelback. I bought a VIP ticket, which meant early entry, so I could get to the barrier. When I posted on my Facebook about going to Rock on the Range, lots of people were positive. When I mentioned Nickelback, they said "Who are you, and what did you do with Christian?" More on this later.
The opening band was My Darkest Days and they were pretty good. Second up was Skillet, perhaps the second worst live band I have seen (after Down). Bush were OK, although I did not know their songs.
Finally, it was time for Nickelback. Their stage show is immense. They have tons of pyro, moving walkways on the sides of the stage, and a big round stage that they go up in over the crowd for four songs, which rotates. They played for 90 minutes and although I have all their CDs, I was still surprised at how many songs I knew. Although I've been to a lot of shows, I can't think of one that had as many flames, screens, and other effects. I'm sure their detractors would say this is to hide the lack of substance, but I'd say it's in keeping with who they are, which is a really good arena rock band.
I was trying to work out why it is that people hate them so much. When challenged, a lot of the people on my Facebook page admitted they have never even heard them. In the show, some guy was even abusing singer Chad Kroeger from the seats. Why even go to a show you hate? Looking around me, I saw a lot more girls than I would expect to see near the barrier of a show. And then I realised: Nickelback are the Poison of their age! They play good, fun arena rock. They are good at what they do. They are very entertaining and certainly slick. Girls like them. Therefore, the guys hate them without even listening in. But, there's a twist. Poison continued to do well on summer tours until Bret Michaels decided to run their integrity in to the ground with Rock of Love. I wonder if this bodes well for the future of Nickelback? Certainly, I would see them again in a heartbeat. They put on a great, fun show, and I had a great evening with them. And yes, I got right to the very front.