Nickelback still uncool, and unfazed

Nickelback brings two modes, metallic grind and power ballad, to the stage. Nickelback brings two modes, metallic grind and power ballad, to the stage. (Jeff Christensen/Associated Press/File 2005)
By Marc Hirsh
Globe Correspondent / September 25, 2010

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Perhaps no rock band has been beaten up in the music press over the past decade more than Nickelback. Wildly popular and totally uncool, the Canadian foursome didn’t prove the doubters wrong last night at the Comcast Center. It just proved that it didn’t care.

Kicking off with three loud explosions before the lights even went down, Nickelback launched into the Metallica-ish “Burn It to the Ground’’ and “Flat on the Floor’’ before switching gears to the more pensive “Photograph.’’ The band had just two modes — metallic grind and power ballad — while singer Chad Kroeger had one: a guttural, tight-throated scream that sounded like he was shouting even on more relaxed numbers.

But there really weren’t many colors to explore. On “If Today Was Your Last Day,’’ Nickelback passed on received wisdom, adding nothing and accepting the kudos. “Shakin’ Hands,’’ “Something in Your Mouth,’’ and “Figured You Out’’ were sexist without any creativity, making them simply dumb and mean.

Kroeger constantly extolled the delights laid out in “Rockstar,’’ but it seemed like a deeply uninspired decadence, as though they’d be too boring to party with if they weren’t in a successful band. Everybody but the singer was so anonymous that if he hadn’t called the bassist “Mike’’ and the guitarist “Peake,’’ you might not have known that they even had names.

There’s a Nickelback sound that remained identifiable even to detractors. Even so, the band repeatedly grounded the show to a halt to throw cups of beer at the audience, play a verse of Garth Brooks or Journey, and make roadies dance or shave their facial hair onstage. Did Nickelback worry? Not at all. There were more explosions to come.

Openers Buckcherry sounded like Guns N’ Roses-by-numbers at their best and generic LA sleaze metal otherwise. Lead singer Josh Todd tried to make bedbugs sound sexy but had the facts against him. Three Days Grace was less of a cartoonish metal caricature, possibly attributable to the band being from Toronto. Its music was more of a hammer than a buzz saw, but still with room for some welcome subtlety.

Marc Hirsh can be reached at

with Three Days Grace and Buckcherry

At: Comcast Center, last night