They proved in 2016 even after Chad Kroeger’s vocal cord surgery and the disastrous pop/rock album “No Fixed Address,” Nickelback continue with their phenomenal success by returning with the Feed The Machine European Tour in support of their current album “Feed The Machine” (June 2017). On Friday 11th May 2018 the Canadian stars rocked up at London’s O2 Arena to perform in front of thousands of fans, most donning Nickelback merch, who clearly don’t care for critical acclaim. It was bound to be a night to remember with support provided by the mean sounding Seether.
The South African hard rock/grunge outfit Seether returned with current album “Poison The Parish” (2017). Opening for a popular band like Nickelback isn’t easy, so expectations were high for Seether’s set. As headliners themselves the pressure was on for Seether to be at the top of their game. So, as the lights dimmed we were teased with an intro before they ploughed straight in to “Gasoline” and softly transitioned into “Betray and Degrade” which saw the crowd roar in excitement to hear some of their favourites. The fat, booming bass lines and backing vocals by Dale Stewart perfectly complimented leader singer/guitarist Shaun Morgan’s soft and aggressive tones. The blend of intense energy and fast-paced hard rock with softer moments like the hard and heavy “Words As A Weapon” to the slowed down acoustic version of “Broken” made for a fantastic warm-up for the night. Morgan seemed to hide behind his hair and was barely in the spotlight as he performed, so it was up to Stewart who took center stage to interact with the crowd. Their 45-minute support slot ended with “Remedy” and on a total high with Morgan tangled up by his wire to the mike stand and slammed his guitar to the floor after thanking the crowd for the support.
While a 10-minute countdown on the huge screen ticked away, anticipation grew for the main act to make an appearance and after a loud 10-second countdown what we got was something like a trailer documenting Nickelback’s history and background. A few moments later the stage darkened, pyro smoke engulfed the stage as the band made a low-key entrance to a crazed crowd going full throttle into “Feed The Machine.” Three songs in and the energy was relentless, full of front row screaming women making “Photograph” one of many mass sing-alongs of the night that made frontman Chad Kroeger inaudible at times. He showed immense affection for the crowd and with his unrivalled ability to connect with fans he was ready to party as he knocked backed shots between songs. The thrilling performance of an emotionally fuelled ballad “Far Away” touched a soft spot with the lyrics played out on the screen behind. Nostalgia kicked in as the band played out songs from every album which went down immensely from their first smash hit “Leader of Men” and the more pop sounding “Lullaby.” Rhythm guitarist Ryan Peake was consistent throughout the set and even took some strain off Kroeger as he seemed to fill in for the frontman. This can be forgiven as we all know about Kroeger’s surgery. His voice isn’t what I remember it to be-heavy, gritty, deep. Nevertheless, his performance was flawless.
The combination of Kroeger’s story-telling and humour coupled spontaneous set list additions added an element of surprise and never broke momentum. Fans were delighted to hear Kroeger’s Spiderman soundtrack “Hero” as well as “Side of a Bullet” a tribute to Dimebag Darrell featuring outtakes of his guitar work which became the guitar solo in this song. Two fans had their dreams come true as they were invited to sing with the band during “Rockstar” and another fan was delighted to play guitar in “Animals.”
Forceful riffs and tasteful solos resulted in a chorus of cheers. Complex basslines by older brother Mike Kroeger and the thunderous drumming by Daniel Adair provided the hard rock hit that was well suited for the night. Predictably, they finished their set with the blistering sound of “How You Remind Me.” It was a standing ovation. But the guys soon returned for two encore songs which proved to be a crowd pleaser.
Overall, the smashing set delivered by support act Seether are set to make bigger waves as they had the opportunity to perform to a massive crowd tonight. Regardless of your musical inclinations, by the end of the night I know Nickelback had converted a few concert goers with their catchy hooks and bouncy riffs. The visually stimulating show which featured impressive light displays and montages played out on the big screen helped the audience connect with the band whether you’re a lover or a hater. What makes a Nickelback gig is something everyone should witness once in their lifetime before judging the band is frontman Chad Kroeger who showed sincere love for being on stage. Feed The Machine tour continues across Europe, so catch them in a city near you!