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By Piet Levy, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Posted: May 22, 2010 11:58 a.m.
Even though Nickelback is hugely popular - it received the fifth-most radio airplay in the United States last decade according to research company Nielsen - the Canadian band's often slammed by critics for playing pat, predictable hard rock.
But Nickelback's show at the Bradley Center Friday still had a few surprises, from the sudden, startling burst of fireworks that kicked things off, to an outstanding drum solo by Daniel Adair atop a moving platform (the night's highlight), to the sounds of frontman Chad Kroeger playfully singing a few lines of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" near the end.
Kroeger likened the show to a party - free cups of Jägermeister were even handed out to folks in the pit - and, throughout the night, he served as chatty, sometimes overeager host. It's customary for rock stars to push boozing to the crowd, but Kroeger stopped the set again and again to talk about alcohol as cameramen filmed flirty women in the crowd (one lady even flashed her top). Moments like these killed the musical momentum, but not the audience's enthusiasm - surprisingly, the crowd stayed on its feet throughout the tedious, repetitive filler.
But it's easy to see why Nickelback is so popular. The band plays loud, accessible rock fit for swilling beer and dancing, and the simple lyrics - covering sex ("Something in Your Mouth"), partying ("Rockstar"), nostalgia ("Photograph") and broken relationships ("How You Remind Me") - are easy to relate and sing along to. Combine Kroeger and Ryan Peake's thrashing guitar work and Adair's thrusting percussion with moving video screens, theatrical lighting, flamethrowers and fireworks, and you had an often-exciting party.
It's not every band that can incorporate death metal growls and sing-along choruses, much less several, as opener Breaking Benjamin does. But the band effectively played alt-rock anthems with chunks of hard-rock swagger during its tightly constructed, workmanlike, eight-song set, even tossing in the group's pop-punkish first single "Polyamorous" to tweak the proceedings.
Shinedown probably had the greatest single of the night to perform - the rousing, unexpectedly emotional "Second Chance" - and the band killed it, showing in those couple of minutes how epic arena rock can be, even without the aid of pyrotechnics.
And if you showed up late and missed out on Sick Puppies, you'll get another opportunity to catch the Australian rockers July 4 at TheCoolTV Rock Stage at Summerfest.
http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/m ... 56294.html