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Nickelback rains hits upon modest-sized Sprint Center crowd, with less flash and flair

Travis Shinn

Numbers don’t lie; they just arrive and spill the truth.

In 2010, Billboard named Nickelback the band of the first decade of the millennium, based on album sales and concert grosses. Less than five years later, the numbers tell a different story.

Monday night, Nickelback headlined a show at the Sprint Center, an arena the Canadian band is accustomed to filling.

But this time, instead of drawing a crowd in excess of 16,000, as it has in the past, Nickelback drew about 7,000, in spite of a couple of ticket premiums, including a Groupon. If those numbers aren’t shocking, they are certainly surprising.

Nonetheless, they gave their crowd pretty much what it showed up for: a high-energy show that lasted about 100 minutes and comprised a torrent of hits.

Nickelback is touring on “No Fixed Address,” its eighth studio album, released in November.

They opened the show with its opening track, “Million Miles an Hour,” a blast of jackhammer pop metal, then “Something In Your Mouth,” from the “Dark Horse” album. Before that one, lead singer Chad Kroger issued the first of many wisecracks of the evening, joking about the song’s suggestive title.

Most of Nickelback’s songs are a compromised blend of pop and heavy rock, ballads and anthems built on riffs and melodies that incite sing-alongs. One of those came early: “Photograph,” a power ballad with a melody that’s catchy enough to make you abide the incipient lyrics.

Nickelback has put more than 18 singles in the top 10 of the U.S. mainstream rock charts, and it delivered many of those Monday night. “Hero” felt a bit listless, but “Too Bad,” “Someday,” “Gotta Be Somebody,” “Rockstar” and “How You Remind Me” stirred some fervor amid fans on the floor, most of whom were on their feet all night,

On a few numbers, including “Far Away,” they were joined by Tim Dawson, their guitar tech and supplemental guitarist.

Kroger was his usually chatty self, and, thanks to the Jaegerbombs he threw back several times, he got chattier as the night wore on.

After he and the band gave the crowd a taste of some Metallica (“Master of Puppets”) and Pantera (“Walk”), Kroger heaved plastic cups half filled with beer into the crowd, keeping the mood sophomoric.

They tossed in more covers.

After Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” drummer Daniel Adair delivered a flashy but brief solo. Lead guitarist Ryan Peake took some lead vocals during the odd Eagles tribute: first “Take It Easy” and then “Hotel California.” During that one, the crowd tried to take over the singing but didn’t know enough of the lyrics to succeed.

The crowd size wasn’t the only thing that felt diminished about this show. Nickelback has typically put on lavish spectacles – lots of hardware, pyro, visuals and other effects.

This show was comparatively austere. There were some flashpots and lots of lively images broadcast on the enormous arch-shaped screen behind the band. Other than that, it was a nuts-and-bolts rock show.

They closed with a cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong,” delivering one of the best rock moments of the night, then “Burn It To The Ground,” a heavy, high-speed pop-metal anthem set to flashpots and images of an inferno on the big video screen.

It brought to a rousing close a show that succeeded in spirit, despite the crowd size.

For many bands, 7,000 is a big crowd, a near sellout at Starlight Theater. But for a band accustomed to packing arenas and amphitheaters for more than a decade, it felt like a regression, and Nickelback looked like a band in transition.

SET LIST

Million Miles An Hour; Something In Your Mouth; Photograph; Hero; Gotta Be Somebody; Far Away; Edge of a Revolution; Master of Puppets/Walk; Too Bad; Someday; Animals; Moby Dick; She Keeps Me Up; Take It Easy/Hotel California; Rockstar; When We Stand Together; How You Remind Me. Encore: Everlong; Burn It To The Ground.

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