[LIVE REVIEW] Nickelback @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 16/02/2019

Melbourne was the final destination for Nickelback on their Feed The Machine tour, and they brought Bad Wolves along for the ride. You can only imagine my excitement at having a chat with drummer and founding member of Bad Wolves, John Boecklin before the show. He is a terrific guy and was extremely generous with his time, needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the show to start.

With the ridiculously huge success of their cover of The Cranberries Zombie, Bad Wolves are almost a household name in Australia, they received massive airplay and the hoards turned out early to see what all the fuss was about. Learn To Live opening the night’s proceedings and vocalist Tommy Vext blowing us away with his enthusiasm and energy. He had the fans eating out of his hands within minutes, happy to jump or punch the sky on his command. He is a well-built guy but it didn’t stop him spinning and jumping nonstop, absolutely owning the stage, even taking to the crowd on several occasions. He also touched briefly on his personal struggle with suicide and how we should always look out for each other. Here Me Now saw all the girls on shoulders at Tommy’s request then we were all literally blown out of our seats by Officer Down which was dedicated to the late Vinnie Paul. John destroyed us with his heavy hitting and double bassing, Doc, Chris and Kyle rounding out a heavy metal set that certainly got the room warmed up.

We were also given small snippets of No One Knows (QOTSA) and Chop Suey (System Of A Down) which were well received but we all knew that Zombie was the cover we were waiting for. With all proceeds from the song going to Dolores O’Riordan’s children, we lit up Rod Laver Arena with our phones and sang with passion taking over the vocals on serval occasions. The heaviness lends itself perfectly to the song and it was a fantastic finisher for the set. These guys are bloody sensational and if you are in the market for some new music, look no further than Bad Wolves you will be glad you did.

Australia has always had a love affair with Nickelback and this Melbourne show was no exception. Rod Laver was awash with diehard fans and almost everyone was happy to part with their hard earned to grab a piece of merch, t-shirts were off the scale, worn with pride by the punters as the clock ticked down to show time. The arena was packed to the rafters and as the lights dropped the electricity was palpable. Feed The Machine opened the set as the guys blasted onto the stage, it was loud, it was brash and it was a god damn rock n roll show at its finest. Woke Up This Morning and the smash hit Photograph took out the first three slots, the huge screens projecting photos from the lives of the members which was a terrific addition. Then the heart-warming Far Away had the chicks swooning, the lighting creating an ambiance that is not the norm at a rock show. 

Something In Your Mouth is always a fan favourite, everyone happy to sing along with the suggestive lyrics, “cause you look so much cuter with something in your mouth” the semi-circle of lights wrapping the stage blasting red and white, as the fans ripped out the lyrics. The banter between band members, especially Chad and Ryan kept us all entertained, whether they were downing shots delivered by stagehand ‘Brad’ or just deciding what to play, they fed off each other and gave us plenty of laughs.  Guitarist Ryan Peake had gone for the double denim ensemble and he rocked it, was that because he was the rockstar up on stage? probably, but whatever the case he wore it well. Ryan is such a talented musician and vocalist, singing on a number of occasions as well as playing the piano, one might say he is the complete package.  Chad’s solo hit Hero was another great addition but Figured You Out with its opening line “I like your pants around your feet” sung by drummer Daniel Adair got the joint jumping. Followed closely by Someday which was a standout and one of my favourites of the night. Ryan took to the piano for Lullaby, again with the lovely lighting and a crowd sing-a-long. Jess was the lucky fan that was pulled from the crowd after holding up a sign saying she wanted to jam, and low and behold she really could play. She rocked the arse off Animals and I’m sure it’s a night she will never forget. Completed with a selfie she was on her way a grin from ear to ear. Animals is a song that the fans love, whether it is the sexual theme, or the rocking tune remains to be seen but whatever the reason they were going off!

It was an extremely well-behaved crowd with everyone there for a good time, hands in the air clapping and following Chad’s lead, and offering huge applause after every jaeger shot he and Ryan downed. Chad did mention he was going to be very hungover on the plane to Singapore in the morning but “fuck it, it’s Melbourne and its out last show so let’s party” and party they did. Bass player Mike Kroeger rounds out this awesome foursome and musical talent clearly runs in the Kroeger family. Mike did an amazing job all night and while he may not be as vocal as his brother, he was enjoying himself immensely.

Rockstar saw Chad and Ryan pull crowd members up for a singing showdown and I think Ryan won this one by a mile, his recruit Sam was fantastic, working the crowd and singing every word, Chad’s choice, yeah not so much. While his trademark golden locks are no longer, Chad ran the show like the professional he is, the night ran like a well-oiled machine and he is still rocking like he did at the band’s inception.  How You Remind Me had everyone singing the intro at fever pitch and as Chad asked “are you having fun yet” it was a resounding hell yes as they blasted the worldwide hit to the screaming punters.  Daniel was a machine on his kit, having him on a huge riser gave us a terrific view of furious drumming giving Nickelback enough heaviness to keep the fans happy.

With waves goodbye, the band left the stage but of course, we knew they would be back. After a quick minute to catch their breath, they returned with Million Miles an Hour.  Burn It To The Ground would close out the show and while we weren’t swinging from the ceiling we were certainly screaming like demons as this red hot ripper was belted out. With red lighting and flames all over the screens, it was a riveting spectacle for such a bad arse song.  The fans were delirious by this stage punching the air for every ‘yeah’ the floor alive with hands in the air, bodies bouncing, taking advantage of every last second.

It was a two-hour rock show like no other, Nickelback left nothing in the tank, they rocked the arse off the Melbourne fans who ate it up greedily. While thankfully they didn’t quite burn it to the ground it was most definitely ‘All In, Balls Out’ show and we can’t wait to have them back in Australia’s home of live music again.

Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale

Gallery By Jose Sanchez