Nickelback / Monster Truck Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 31, 2016    
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Nickelback / Monster Truck - Arena, Manchester (UK) - 19 October 2016

Nickelback's current trek around the UK and the rest of Europe has been advertised as 'The Greatest Hits Tour'. That is fine by me because, two or three tracks aside, 2015's 'No Fixed Address' release was quite awful and lacked direction and focus. Fortunately, the Canadians have a reputation for delivering in the live environment and have become one of the scene's big hitters in recent times. I remember seeing them in a much smaller venue, before 'How I Remind You' pushed them into the public eye and had everyone rushing to their local music store to pick up a copy of 'Silver Side Up'.

To get us in the mood tonight we have another Canadian quartet, Monster Truck. Since forming in 2009 they have released two albums, with 'Sittin' Heavy' (February 2016) being the most recent. It was afforded critical acclaim and proved to be a solid dose of heavy Blues Rock, full of big riffs and hooks – unmistakably retro without losing sight of the fact it is the 21st Century. Jon Harvey (lead vocals/bass), Jeremy Widerman (guitar), Brandon Bliss (keyboards) and Steve Kiely (drums) had around forty-five minutes to make an impression in front of a very loyal Nickelback crowd. I am not overly familiar with their catalogue but I couldn't help but get caught up in the mood, being able to witness the band at close quarters, for the first three or four songs, from the photo pit. The likes of 'She's A Witch', 'Old Train', 'Sweet Mountain River' and 'Righteous Smoke' all had great energy and though Widerman was really the only person who could move around, he managed cover a large part of the stage whilst Harvey's vocals were whiskey-soaked with a splash of water, making them accessible and impassioned. When 'The Lion' brought things to a close they were given a warm reception from the crowd and it was certainly a case of job done.

The Nickelback machine rolls around on a regular basis now and judging by the age ranges in attendance, they have widespread appeal. The fact that it was also pretty much an even male/female split indicates that, due to the number of ballads that each album possesses (apologies if that is an unfair assessment), the appeal is in no way restrictive. 'Edge Of A Revolution' gets us under way (one of the better tracks from the aforementioned '...Address') and from minute one the crowd on the floor is bouncing. We are situated stage right in the stand but due to the infectious nature of the material (it wasn't me who wanted to dance) we decide to move to the empty seated area to the rear of the arena where nobody else was in danger of being damaged by our movement (my movement was generally to the bar, which surprisingly closed at 10pm).

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'The Greatest Hits Tour' tag is an accurate description of the show and the set-list plunders the back catalogue for all the songs that made the charts. There are too many ballads for my liking, but 'Photograph' and 'Someday' do pack more power in the live environment, with the guitars prominent and drums and bass nicely balanced in the background. 'Something In Your Mouth', 'Animals' and 'Too Bad' have energy to burn and it is during the up-tempo songs that the crowd have greater animation. I'm surprised by the lack of pyro, but this does not hamper proceedings in any way. Things drag a little mid-set with back to back to back to back slow songs. The light show creates a nice atmosphere but I would have enjoyed the spectacle more if I had still been holding a drink. 'Rockstar' is a cringe-worthy attempt at audience participation, though the girl picked to sing on stage seems more than happy to be near Chad Kroeger, regardless of how badly out of tune she was singing. The band seem very relaxed on stage and the between song banter was light-hearted and generally at the expense of Brad, the roadie tasked with keeping the liquid refreshment flowing. 'Gotta Be Somebody' and 'How You Remind Me' (of course) bring the main set to a close and the ten thousand backing singers certainly add to the impact. The cover of Foo Fighters 'Everlong', with guitarist Ryan Peake handling the vocals, doesn't really work, even though nobody seems to care too much. 'Burn It To The Ground' brings things to an end in anthemic fashion and I must admit, the two hour set (consisting of some twenty songs) had passed very quickly.

A new Nickelback album is due in 2017 and a number of songs have already been recorded. It will be interesting to see how the material takes shape and whether there were lessons learned from the last release's lukewarm reception. Regardless, the Canucks are still a force to be reckoned with in an arena setting, even without the aid of alcohol.

Dave Bott

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