Sunday night's performance at Toronto's Air Canada Centre supporting last year's Here And Now wasn't nearly as heavy sonically as previous tours, the amount of fuel used for fireballs was economical and the pacing was at times pedestrian.
There was a beer-tossing segment though, so they still have their standards.
Working a stage whose floor resembled the insides of a grandfather clock, the Hanna, Alberta quartet started with This Means War (not the far better AC/DC song of the same name) with three video screens behind them and the near-capacity audience on its feet. From there the suggestive, hard-charging Something In Your Mouth had the lyrics onscreen for some massive karaoke.
Or perhaps in the event lead singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger, dressed in black from head to toe, turned his back to the audience.
“Thank you,” Kroeger said, adding the group brought a rock and roll show back into town and would throw a few surprises later. One non-surprise though was Photograph, the first of a handful of ballads which put things in cruise control. The same could be said for the crowd-pleasing Far Away which had an additional guitarist brought on stage.
Using lasers and flames to drive home the hard-rock, radio-friendly numbers, Nickelback tore into the meaty Never Again off 2001's Silver Side Up. The group would then play a mini-set on a rotating stage which rose up and slid over to a landing pad at the venue's rear. Beginning with the crunchy Bottoms Up the band (aboard “Nickelback Airlines”) offered up Rockstar with Kroeger drowned out at times with one fan holding a sign reading “4 Shows, 12 Days, Priceless.”
Returning to home base during Animals as Kroeger held out a small camera which showed the crowd, Nickelback opted for an artsy moon backdrop for Lullaby with guitarist Ryan Peake tickling the ivories.
“Everybody having a good f—king time?” Kroeger asked before the warm, roots-riddled When We Stand Together which was the evening's high point. However the ensuing How You Remind Me (after a Daniel Adair drum solo) came out without much of a hitch and much fanfare.
The encore consisted of the power pop Gotta Be Somebody before concluding in a blaze of pyrotechnical glory during Figured You Out with flames, fireworks and explosions galore like the olden days.
If fans didn't get enough Nickelback on this night don't worry because they're coming back soon. Between opening acts a video screen showed a July 11 gig at Toronto's Molson Canadian Amphitheatre slated.
Opening for Nickelback were '90s alt-rockers Bush led by singer Gavin Rossdale (Gwen Stefani's other half). Bush tore through a set free of Swallowed but including Machinehead, a murky Everything Zen, Glycerine and an average cover of The Beatles' Come Together. Here Rossdale ran onto the floor, around half the lower bowl and finally back to the stage glad-handing and hugging fans.
This Means War
Something In Your Mouth
When We Stand Together
How You Remind Me
Burn It To The Ground
Gotta Be Somebody
Figured You Out