Tampa, FL(July 29th,2023)
Twenty thousand plus people are singing” ‘Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars And live in hilltop houses, driving 15 cars The girls come easy, and the drugs come cheap We’ll all stay skinny, ’cause we just won’t eat” at the tops of their lungs at Tampa’s MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre. It’s a full on party atmosphere and everyone is having the time of their lives singing along to this hit song. Yes, Canadian rockers Nickelback the well-known creators of this hit song have come to town for the first time in several years. Dubbed the Get Rollin’ tour after their latest album, they also brought along country rocker Brantley Gilbert and relative new comer Josh Ross.
The night kicked off with fellow Canadian Josh Ross. While he was relatively unknown to the partisan rock crowd, he put on an energetic performance. During his eight song set, he rarely stood still as he worked the stage and interacted with concertgoers that showed up early to grab a coveted spot right at the stage. For the fans there that were familiar with Brantley Gilbert, his music provided a nice warm up for the evening. He even performed the Goo Goo Dolls hit song “Iris” that had the audience singing along.
Brantley Gilbert well known for his gritty country music that’s blended with a heaping of southern rock might have been a bit of an eye raiser as a choice of tour mates, but his recent performance on Five Finger Death Punches tour showed that his style of music not only is well received but works well on a rock tour. He opened his show with the high energy song “Kick It In The Sticks”. With the pyro going full tilt and his band really getting into the performance, you didn’t need to be a country fan to enjoy this number.
Between his opening number and “Son Of The Dirty South” as well as “Bottoms Up” Gilbert put on a high tempo show that had people screaming whenever he asked for it. Over his fifteen song setlist he also threw in a few covers that helped to inspire his rock side such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue On Black”, Godsmack’s “Whatever”, and “Shine” by Collective Soul. While there were clearly many of his fans in attendance, Gilbert has been wise in signing on with rock tours as his music blends in well and he knows how clearly knows how to put on a show that rock fans love to see.
As the sun set on the venue, when the house lights finally dimmed, the giant video screens on stage lit up playing an animated police chase. At the end, all the members of Nickelback has their faces were on wanted posters along with the final screen showing Tampa as well as some fun pop culture touches. When the stage lights finally came alive the band was in place. They launched into their latest hit song “San Quentin” off of their new album Get Rollin’. With the crowd singing along to this eminently catchy hit song, the party was now going full on. If anyone had any concern about the band’s sound quality after not being on tour, rest assured they sounded incredible. Chad Kroeger’s voice was on point along with his guitar work.
After slowing things down a bit with “Savin’ Me” and “Far Away”, two of the bands anthemic ballads, which had one of their crew join them on stage playing acoustic guitar, they decided to rev things back up. The band launched into an all too familiar riff and the pyro kicked in hard with the crowd primed to sing along. When they got to the lyrics of “Animal”, the fans loved every second of it and were singing along word for word. You couldn’t help but think this is everything a rock concert should be; high octane rock n’ roll, pyro and twenty thousand people going nuts.
In between songs Chad Kroeger would tell stories or have some fun banter with rhythm guitar player Ryan Peake. After one song was finished, due to Tampa’s notorious summer heat ,Kroeger said “this is the new technique you go back stage and get a T-shirt that has been soaking in ice water bucket and you put THAT on. It’s a little shocking off the bat, but it tickles the nipples”. Before they played “Figured It Out”, Kroeger said “that if this song if it were released today it would get the band cancelled. But they have been trying to cancel us for twenty years and it hasn’t worked yet.” He continued “We survived cancel culture before there was cancel culture.”
Before they played “Rockstar” Kroeger let Peake pick a fan out of the crowd to join them on stage to sing this iconic number. Peake selected a fan and while he was on his way up, a similarly dressed fan took that moment to attempt to take his place. Peake caught this and let everyone know the interloper was not who he picked. Ultimately, they let both stay which triggered a memory from Kroeger. He told everyone this was a story he had never mentioned ever. He said when he was in kindergarten the teacher selected a classmate to come up and select a toy. Instead he ran up and grabbed the toy and this reminded him of that moment.
The show continued on with hit song after hit song. From “Photograph, to “Hero” to “How you remind me”. The setlist was loaded with a never ending amount of fan favorites. There was never a moment in the show where the fans weren’t engaged in the music or didn’t instantly recognize one of the songs. Even new songs from Get Rollin’ like “High Times” and “Those Days” were well received and had the concert goers cheering them on. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and Nickelback ended the night perfectly with “Burn It To The Ground” that was replete with massive pyro.
There is one subtle measure to the success of a show, are people leaving during the encore to beat the traffic? Tonight, everyone was glued to their spot until the last bow was taken. By every other measure possible the concert was a massive hit. While Nickelback was never a critics darling, their brand of music isn’t tailored to them, it was made for their countless fans that snatch up tickets for their sold out shows. Tonight was a perfect example of this as their music is catchy, anthemic and ideal to sing along to with twenty plus thousand of your friends as the guys in Nickelback put on what could arguably be the best rock concert of the year.
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre: