CANADIAN THUNDER ON THE GLASGOW TUNDRA FROM NICKELBACK AND MONSTER TRUCK
Nickelback/Monster Truck: Glasgow SSE Hydro Arena
Monday 24th October 2016
It's never easy being the support act to a band on an arena tour and getting the audience's attention as a huge venue fills up. As the first part of a two pronged Canuck attack tonight Monster Truck take it in their stride though. They have been on this tour for months now and know they get a fair crack at the lights and sound so are confident that their seventies rooted stoner rock will have a chance to impress and overall that's what it does.
Their high energy blues rock sound travels nicely out into the hall and gets everyone nodding along and more. It doesn't hurt that topless guitarist Jeremy Widerman is such a live wire and his enthusiasm is infectious as he jumps around all over the huge stage and out onto the parts that extend into the crowd.
Bassist and singer Jon Harvey has a gruff, friendly manner and enjoys the positive response they get from a typically spirited Glasgow crowd.I couldn't really hear keyboard player Brandon Bliss in the overall sound but it didn't seem to matter that much as songs like punchy set closer 'The Lion' are all about the guitar riffs and the energy.
A good performance from Monster Truck then and a good night for them but I have to mention that there are a lot of bands ploughing the same musical furrow right now so they need to make the most of high profile opportunities like this and follow it up with a killer new album and more touring. I think they are up to that though.
I have liked Nickelback since the first time I heard them on a visit to Toronto in 2000. It's been interesting watching them go from promising newcomers to chart toppers to the rock band that fills arenas but some Metal fans seem to love to hate over the last sixteen years. This is the first time I have seen them live since they graduated to playing enormous halls like the Hydro and their easy confidence in this environment is obvious from the start.
Opening tune 'Edge Of The Revolution' with the video screens showing film of tanks and political rallies is maybe not the vibe you expect at an arena rock show but normality is soon restored with storming and very loud versions of 'Something In Your Mouth' and 'Animals'.
Not having been to one of Chad and cos shows for many years it surprises me how much of a mainstream audience it is. There aren't many of the black t-shirt Metal brigade here and t-shirts are more likely to say Foo Fighters than Metallica. Given that, the variety of styles that they get away with playing tonight is remarkable. When they rock it up on songs like 'Flat On The Floor' they're really on the edge of all out Metal but then they can go on to full on saccharin ballad with 'Far Away' and the same audience reacts just as well to both.
One of the things they have going for them is the natural charm of band leader Chad Kroeger. Completely at home up there he chats to the audience like they are playing a club rather than an enormodome and it works, he gets listened to. Personally I thought he talked a bit too much and there were too many self indulgent moments of banter with roadie Bradley who was supplying the jaegerbombs to keep them going but I guess it's all part of the appeal of the band. They seem to be saying we're playing arenas but we're still one of you.
This is shown again when they almost just throw away one of their biggest hits in 'Rockstar' by playing it acoustically and with a couple of fans on stage singing along with them. The connection seemed more important than the image for a while and the Glaswegian lad in particular made the most of the chance and walked the stage like it was his. In local parlance he was gallus, meaning bold and cheeky.
With all the talking and the different kinds of songs the set didn't really have any flow to it. This could mean disaster for many other bands as they could lose the audience and let the atmosphere fall flat but Nickelback have the songs in the back catalogue for instant recovery at any point. Need a crowd singalong to boost the vibe? Play 'Photograph'. Need something epic and superhero related? Throw in Kroeger's solo tune 'Hero'. Need a big finish? We always have 'How You Remind Me' for that.
The finishing touch tonight is applied with closing tune 'Burn It To The Ground' which is a pounding Metal anthem of the first order in this environment and gets the whole arena bouncing and punching the air.
Whatever their critics might say Nickelback have got something, otherwise they wouldn't be filling arenas year after year. I think the main thing is they write some very, very good songs which really is the key to success for any band. Add in that in a live setting Mr Kroeger has enough rock star swagger to make it all work and you can see why that is. The song may be tongue in cheek but he can sing it with a smile as he's earned it.