It’s time that folks give Nickelback some slack.
One of the premier global music acts of our time, the Canadian quartet remains an universal punching bag; pilloried for its mega popularity; and for jump-starting fans’ bloodstreams with mega doses of adrenaline.
Many musicians today spill their beer at the mention of Nickelback’s name.
They regard these post-grunge heavyweights as a sinister force.
Last year, the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney sniffed to Rolling Stone magazine that, “Rock ‘n’ roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world.”
In a dead-on, chisel-it-on-my-tombstone retort against detractors, Nickelback currently kick off shows on its global tour with the anthem-styled “This Means War” containing the lyrical message, “Say anything you want / But talk will get you nowhere,” as gargantuan balls of flames erupt from behind members onstage.
Such trench warfare by Nickelback is waged not against women and kids, but against earnest music journalists; internet-blogging bomb-throwers; and those music aficionados who try to sing along with Feist.
Meanwhile, critics are wholly divided over the band’s current tour with concerts featuring a levitating stage, band members riding conveyer belts, and all-flame-and-no-shame pyrotechnics.
“Nickelback gives predictably boring performance in Calgary” was the predictably lame headline of Mike Bell’s Calgary Herald review of the band’s May 16th, 2012 show at the Saddledome.
But, according to Bell at the top of the review, there was already blood in the water.
“Full disclosure: the Calgary Herald was not accredited for Wednesday night’s show at the Saddledome by Hanna rock act Nickelback because the band has issues with things that have been written in the past by myself.”
Next Bell groused, “The thinking has been explained as, in a nutshell, thus: We know he hates us, why should we give him tickets to come and bag on us, especially in our own backyard?
“Its assessment of the situation was the correct one. It tried to save us both the trouble, and I see and appreciate it now,” wrote Bell before concluding, “Instead, it’s just boring. Garish. But boring.”
The prior evening, the Edmonton Journal’s Sandra Sperounes had a far better time partying with Nickelback at Rexall Place. Under the headline—“Nickelback big, loud – and fun”—she wrote that, “Eight-year-old boys to 80-year-old grandmothers partied with the Hanna natives, and their pals at Rexall Place.
“For more than four hours, the guitars were a-chug-chug-chugging — along with fans and their pints of beers — as Alberta’s superheroes saved us from flaky indie rock, perhaps attacking our livers and eardrums in the process. Think of Nickelback’s (almost) sold-out show as the musical equivalent of Marvel’s Avengers — with Hulk-size riffs, Iron Man-like visual effects, and Thor-like hair. Big, loud, ridiculous and fun.”
Among their fans, Nickelback’s name evokes thundering tributes that go far beyond the customary comments made about most rock bands.
What Nickelback has achieved has come from evaluating, and understanding mainstream rock and roll as well as its audience.
The appeal of Nickelback’s music, members know, lies in the fact that much of their audience wants to party.
You hear stripped-down rock and roll songs like “Never Again,” “How You Remind Me.” “Someday,” “Figured You Out,” “Savin’ Me,” “Far Away,” “If Everyone Cared,” and “Rockstar” once, and they stick with you.
And, it is very, very good party music.
Nickelback’s subdued side is evident in such charming ballads as “Far Away” and “Photograph” or when guitarist Ryan Peake gets behind a piano for “Lullaby” from the most recent album.
To the consternation of its critics, Nickelback has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide to date.
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