July 1, 2017
A tour pairing of one of the best-selling bands of the current era and an American Idol finalist might seem odd. When the groups are Nickelback and Daughtry and one realizes that the lead singers of the two bands are the co-writers of the hit song, "Life After You," any trepidation goes right out the window.
Nickelback is a Canadian band currently composed of guitarist and lead vocalist Chad Kroeger, guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger, and drummer Daniel Adair. The band is one of the most successful Canadian groups with album sales of over 50 million worldwide. Best known for its song "How You Remind Me," which Billboard magazine lists as the best-selling rock song of the 2000s. Billboard also credits it as the fourth best-selling song (overall) of that decade.
Daughtry is a band. Though named after its lead singer, Chris Daughtry, who was a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, simply put Daughtry is a band. The band is comprised of lead vocalist/guitarist Daughtry, Brian Craddock on lead guitar, guitarist Josh Steely, Josh Paul on bass, drummer Robin Diaz and Elvio Fernandes on keyboards.
On a cool and soon to be rainy evening on Long Island at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, Daughtry stormed the stage for an eleven song set that featured quite a bit of what one would expect from an American Idol finalist and more of what one would expect from a rock band firing on all cylinders. As expected, the set was full of hits featuring excellent renditions of "Crawling Back To You," "Waiting For Superman," "Feels Like Tonight," "Over You" and the set closer "September."
During the years since American Idol, there has been a noticeable shift in Daughtry's audience. In the beginning, the band's followers were mostly young teeny boppers who watched him on television and the FOX program's target female demographic. Now, a decade or so later, these fans have grown a bit and though they still attend Daughtry's performances quite a few male music fans have taken notice. Perhaps it is partially due to the release of "Life After You," which Chris Daughtry explained came to be "when we were on tour and I got a text and a cellphone call from Chad Kroeger. I didn't get back to him as quickly as he or I would have liked. When I did, he said check out these lyrics. Call me back soon or I'm giving the song to Keith Urban." Daughtry further explained, that he was blown away by the lyrics and that "I loved it. Chad and I worked to finish the song. This is called 'Life After You.'" The powerful version of the song brought the audience to its feet as it sand along with Daughtry. The next song really proved and cemented how far the singer and the band has come since its early days. Daughtry stepped forward and stated, "This is a song I wish I wrote." The version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" was one the best cover versions of the song and nothings short of stunning.
Fittingly, it as "Over You" came to a close, the skies opened and the deluge began. Though the rain lasted for only about 25 minutes, the end of Daughtry's set--"Back Bone," "It's Not Over," "Home" (which the band dedicated to all those who have served) and "September" was played as the rains came tumbling down.
The rain let up and eventually stopped during the intermission. Though it would occasionally get misty at the intimate venue by the bay during the rest of the evening, Nickelback was able to soldier on without having to be ruled by the inclement weather. It should be noted that the camaraderie between the lead singers of the two bands was quite evident when Chad Kroeger mentioned that Daughtry was his favorite lightning rod and weather vane.
After kicking things off with "Feed the Machine" and a muscular version of "Woke Up This Morning," Nickelback delivered a tight and crunchy performance with just the right amount of power chords and pomp during its set which stuck to the hits while offering only two new songs from its Feed the Machine album (BMG, 2017)--the title track and "Song On Fire."
Throughout the show, Chad Kroeger was in fine form. The 42-year-old front man delivered strong vocals and quite a few jokes and quips. Brother Mike on bass along with drummer Adair laid down a rock-solid rhythmic foundation while Peake on guitar delivered riff after crunchy riff with aplomb.
The performance touched on all aspects of the band's career. Highlights included the sing-along favorite "Photograph" and the balladic "Far Away" as well as "Someday," the riff-filled Animals," "Rockstar," a fist-pumping audience participation version of "Figured You Out" and the main set closer, the fiery "Burn it to the Ground."
Following "Burn It To The Ground," the band retreated back stage for a very short moment. Returning quickly for the encores, Nickelback turned it up a notch for the jab, jab, knock-out puch of "Gotta Be Somebody" and "This Afternoon" (both of which were originally released on 2008's Roadrunner Records' Dark Horse album) and, of course, the mega-hit "How You Remind Me."
Nickelback delivered a fun almost two-hour performance. It may always be a band that people either fervently love or hate with a vengeance. Die-hard fans are always going to love the band. Haters are always going to hate the band. Nickelback may never get the critical respect deserved of a million-selling group of its stature. It is, however, one of the few bands of the current generation that can pull-off a large tour and sell-out major venues. Nickelback seems to not worry about it and to just let the music do the talking...and its fans love it.
Photo credit: Christine Connallon