Nickelback Revels In Good Times During 90-Minute Set Friday In Hartford

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Chad Kroeger, left, and Daniel Adair of Nickelback performed Friday, April 27, at XL Center in Hartford. (Photo by Diana Guay Dixon/Special to

Word that Bush was touring with Nickelback this spring seemed to prompt one of two reactions: “Really? Nickelback?” or “Bush — that’s still a thing?”

Yes, and yes.

Pairing Bush with Nickelback, though, makes sense, in that Nickelback is very much a stylistic descendant of Bush, which skipped over the commercial ambivalence of American grunge bands and aimed straight for mass-culture success. Nickelback is the latter-day equivalent, just streamlined, with bigger riffs and less subtlety. There was plenty of the former and little of the latter during Nickelback’s performance Friday at XL Center in Hartford, where the band treated a sizable crowd to 90 minutes’ worth of red-meat hard rock, and one unexpected cover. (See more photos here.)

The musicians radiated a regular-guy affability on stage, playing songs that were largely about having a good time: getting wasted on “Bottoms Up,” getting famous on “Rockstar” and getting laid on, well, plenty of others. Even on the darker songs, like opener “This Means War” or the domestic abuse tale “Never Again,” singer Chad Kroeger never seemed to take things personally — he had the confident air of someone who knows he’ll be back to having a good time in no time.

Nickelback performed on a huge stage with a pair of runways on either side jutting out at angles into the crowd. There were video screens, banks of lights and jets of pyro. Out in the middle of the arena floor, there was also a smaller stage that rotated slowly when the band dashed out to it for a few songs mid-set, including “Rockstar” and the power-ballad “Someday,” which bookended what seemed like a spur-of-the-moment cover of “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO.

Back on the main stage, lead guitarist Ryan Peake switched to piano for “Lullaby,” drummer Daniel Adair took a thunderous solo after “When We Stand Together” (Nickelback’s take on a U2-style solidarity anthem) and members of the road crew came out to fire t-shirts cannons and toss cups of beer into the crowd for members of the audience to catch.

After “How You Remind Me” and “Burn It to the Ground,” Nickelback returned to play “Gotta Be Somebody” and “Figured You Out” for an encore.

Bush didn’t make mention of the headliner during its 45-minute set, but the English band definitely helped get the crowd revved up for Nickelback. Bush played some of its biggest hits, including “Machinehead” and “Glycerine” and “Comedown,” along with a thumping cover of the Beatles “Come Together” that saw singer Gavin Rossdale leave the stage to race around the arena, singing from different vantage points.

Playing before Bush, Seether delivered a 45-minute set of dreary hard rock with little in the way of musical dynamics — it was just a wash of indiscernible sound propelled by pounding drums. My Darkest Days opened the show.

Nickelback’s set list:
1. “This Means War,” 2. “Something In Your Mouth,” 3. “Never Again,” 4. “Photograph,” 5. “Far Away,” 6. “Bottoms Up,” 7. “Rockstar” (on small stage), 8. “Sexy And I Know It” (LMFAO cover, on small stage), 9. “Someday” (on small stage), 10. T-shirt cannon instrumental, 11. “Animals,” 12. “Lullaby,” 13. “When We Stand Together,” 14. Drum solo, 15. “How You Remind Me,” 16. “Burn It to the Ground.” Encore: 17. “Gotta Be Somebody,” 18. “Figured You Out.”

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12 thoughts on “Nickelback Revels In Good Times During 90-Minute Set Friday In Hartford

  1. Bob

    Having never been to the Hartford XL Center I didn’t know what to expect. I sat down just about the time Seether was finishing up it’s last few songs. Out came Bush a bit later and I was still scratching my head as to where everybody was. No mention of the headliner, no intro, but out they come. Still, so many seats remained empty. First time seeing Nickelback live and I have to say.. if it wasn’t for the pyro’s going off, the elaborate light show.. there would have been no excitement. Photograph I thought was a stretch.. sounded flat and not at all like the studio version. Other songs like Far Away were on the mark. Overall, I have to say it wasn’t awe inspiring by any means… No one in my section was standing, a few head nods.. but that was it. Seemed it was an odd crown.. just cant put my finger on it but it lacked a vibe.. energy.. something.

  2. Paula

    Bush should have been the headliner in Friday night’s concert. My Darkest Days and Seether were brutally boring. I didn’t even waste my time staying for Nickelback.

    1. Pistol Pete

      They are getting rave reviews all over the USA… talk about stupid…. you paid that much to see BUSH?
      what a rip off

  3. Gary

    Having been to many concerts before, I can still say this is the greatest concert you will ever attend. MDD has the stage presence of seasoned pros. Best yet they played three songs that got the crowd going very well. Seether came on and sounded very distorted, and as usual had very little crowd interaction. Bush came out and blew the place away with theory cover but definitely stayed too long. Nickelback though is the best rock band of our time concert wise at least. High Pyro, yes, huge drum solo, yes, hard rock cords, yes, but great with the crowd and played ever song perfectly, maybe not studio perfect but I don’t know why you would want that go listen to a cd than. Dident care for the spinning stage though.

    1. Bob

      You can say it but it doesn’t make it true… It was by far not the best concert I have ever attended.. not even close. I don’t blame Nickelback as much as I blame the venue.. It’s old, the fans were asleep, the venue’s acoustics sucked and the place was only 75% full. Give me MSG any day.

  4. Pingback: Nickelback at the XL Center | Diana Guay dot com

  5. Jack

    Nickelback put on a great “party”. Big noise, systematic chords, yes, but lot of fun. Good energy. The empty seats were way up in the top sections. Nowadays, with these prices, hard to sell out a big place. I could care less about crowd vibe. It is what you bring to it yourself. Bush was very surprising. Tight and all their top songs. Come Together sounded great. I was looking forward to Seether. They sounded like crap. The sound was distorted and the bass was up way too high. I was relieved to hear a cleaner sound when they left the stage. All in all, a great show.

  6. Krissy

    BUSH WAS AMAZINGGGGG!!!!!!!!!! Gavin Rossdale sings his songs Live just as good as the cd’s. Theyve DEF. still got it hands down!

  7. Krissy

    Jack’s right Nickelback def. was a great party! Having a beer in your hand and rocking out was def. a great night!

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