Let’s get it out of the way right at the start: Nickelback is huge. Love them or hate them, there is absolutely no argument there. Fifty million albums sold worldwide makes the Canadian rock band the 2nd best selling foreign act in the United States behind the Beatles for the 2000s. They’ve been nominated for six Grammy awards. They’ve been nominated for 28 Juno awards, nabbing 12.
They’re huge. Get over it. As Lou Brutus says in his missive on Halestorm‘s latest album The Strange Case of…, “Often in rock, a band becomes popular and the rest of the rock world shits all over them. Apparently, for having the audacity of being successful. That sucks.”
Let’s move on.
In January, Nickelback announced a tour that they said was “two years in the making.” Putting together a powerhouse of rock groups, the “Here and Now Tour 2012″ includes up-and-comers My Darkest Days, fan favorites and crowd pleasers Seether, and the one and only Bush.
Nickelback. Bush. Seether. My Darkest Days. Here at Free Gotham we had one thought: “Sign us up.” Fortunately, we had the chance to catch the tour on Thursday April 19th at Madison Square Garden.
Because each of these bands has the power and stage presence to command their own headlining tour, I’m going to break this review down into four sections, focusing on each band’s set.
My Darkest Days
I’ve become very familiar with these Canadians. The first time I saw them was at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square, and I was immediately hooked. I had heard their hit, “Porn Star Dancing,” but didn’t know any of their other tunes…Soon after that show, I knew every single one of their tunes. The allure of My Darkest Days is not just with their fun, catchy rock music. The band absolutely delivers when they perform live. Often when you see a young band perform, opening for acts like Nickelback, you’re left feeling like your time was wasted: nothing impressive, nothing fun, nothing rockin’. Between frontman Matt Walst and bassist Brendan McMillan, My Darkest Days does its best to keep the audience engaged and screaming their heads off…and do it brilliantly. They have the stage presence to make them a valuable asset to any tour.
What can I say about Seether? These guys know how to rock, and they know how to put on an incredible rock show. Since the 2002 release of Disclaimer, these South African rockers have had incredible success. Every album has been certified Gold, they’ve headlined tours and played major music festivals, and they’ve become a staple of rock radio. Their set at The Garden was non-stop, and I have a lot of respect for that. There is no filler, there is no banter. Shaun Morgan, Dale Stewart, and John Humphrey took the stage for one thing and one thing only: to put on a killer concert. They did just that with crushing tunes like “Gasoline” and “Remedy” and the always beautiful “Broken.” If I have to pick the song that defined the show and my feelings for Seether, it has to be “Rise Above This.” It is a near-perfect song that captures the beauty of Seether’s music but also the raw rock power of what they create. It was the song of the night for Seether. As always, Seether left the stage with the crowd wanting more.
Out of all the bands that played at The Garden for this show, Bush was the one I was looking forward to most, if for no other reason than because they were the only band I had never seen live. In the 90s, Bush created some of the most recognizable songs around with tracks like “Everything Zen,” “Machinehead,” “Comedown,” and “Glycerine,” all of which appeared on the multi-platinum Sixteen Stone. That album came out in 1994, and nearly 18 years later it carries just as much of a punch as it did when it was released. Forty-seven year old Gavin Rossdale stole the show with his incredible performances song after song. He proved that he is just as much of a rock star as he was when Bush was in its prime…The highlight of the show? Rossdale jumped off stage and ran through the seats of The Garden during the band’s cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together.” If you haven’t seen Bush live, don’t waste your time hesitating. Get out and enjoy a night of rock and roll with Gavin and the gang.
These guys are rock stars, it’s as simple as that. From beginning to end, Nickelback crushed it at Madison Square Garden. And believe it or not, this was the first time in their career that they played a show at The Garden, so needless to say it was a special night for all involved. Opening the set with “This Means War,” Nickelback set the stage for what the crowd could expect: Pure, unadulterated rock and roll. After a couple of songs, Chad Kroeger told the crowd that he had some tricks up his sleeve…at which point a second stage came flying down from the rafters. That’s right, a second stage. The band jumped on, and exploded into a four song set on this stage that flew over the crowd and parked on the opposite end of the venue. For those who weren’t prepared for that, there’s no doubt they were blown away. If you’ve seen Nickelback live, you know the kind of show they put on. If you haven’t, I wouldn’t worry. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon, so make sure you take advantage of the next chance you get. Besides the music, Kroeger is the ultimate frontman, making the crowd laugh, cheer, and scream their heads off. Let the haters hate…Nickelback is stronger than ever, and they’ll be here for a long time. I’m glad I could be part of the packed crowd to welcome the band to The Garden.
Nickelback’s “second” stage, embarking on its inaugural flight at MSGLike Free Gotham on Facebook...