It was the perfect night for a concert on the Camden waterfront. Not too hot at all, with just the right amount of breeze. And one of my favorite bands on the planet, NICKELBACK, was set to rock BB&T Pavilion on their Feed The Machine Tour. This was an extra special show for a couple of reasons: one, I have loved this band for almost twenty years, and more importantly, this was my son Mini-Amps’ very first concert at the arena level.
Many of you know my boy has autism and is non-verbal, but he is always smiling and he loves rock and metal music. So I was really excited and a bit nervous to see how he would take it all in and also to see how he’d handle being in a large crowd. Spoiler Alert: He loved it! Now, onto the show…
When the house lights went down the stage was suddenly bathed in red. I looked over at Mini-Amps, pointed to the stage, and said, “Look. Look Corey! What’s that?” He looked at me, somewhat puzzled, and when the band launched into “Feed the Machine” from their new album of the same name he started grinning. “Woke Up This Morning” from 2001’s Silver Side Up was a rare treat, followed by perennial favorite “Photograph.”
I got a little teary-eyed because this song has so many memories attached to it, and getting to enjoy it with my son made me so happy. “Far Away” from the same amazing All the Right Reasons record was next and made all the ladies happy, no doubt, before they kicked it up a notch with “Too Bad.”
2003’s The Long Road made the first of two appearances with “Someday” and then the show went into chill mode for a bit with a triumvirate of slower numbers, “Lullaby”, “Savin’ Me’ featuring opener Chris Daughtry helping out on vocals, and then newest single “Song on Fire.”
This one is such a good track no wonder they released it early. Singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger had a very laid-back and fun demeanor and enjoyed a Jagerbomb shot or two before they tore into the firecracker “Something in Your Mouth” from home run record Dark Horse.
The crowd was up and moving. This was just the song the night needed to ramp up the intensity and Mini-Amps was loving it along with his Dad!
As has become custom on this run, Chad then brought up two audience members to help sing “Rockstar”: a guy who had definitely had a few, and a girl who had abs that Chad couldn’t stop marveling over. Needless to say she didn’t do much singing, just gyrated all over the place, much to the delight of all the beer-soaked dudes in attendance. “When We Stand Together” was next from 2011’s Here and Now and Mini-Amps started doing his back and forth sway dance that he does when he’s really into it, and he kept smiling at me the whole way.
It was karaoke time as the guys started “Hotel California” from THE EAGLES and let the crowd sing it up till the first chorus. Kroeger remarked that he wished they loved his band’s songs as much with a laugh.
Two more of our favorites came up to bat with “Animals” and “Figured You Out”, both of which rocked hard and kicked ass. Kroeger, fellow guitarist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Daniel Adair were locked in a groove now and only getting tighter. Closing out the main set was THE biggest song of the early 2000’s in “How You Remind Me.”
This tune is also in the Guinness Book of World Records, and those in attendance roared their approval at hearing it. At this point Mini-Amps was getting a little antsy, but he was a trooper and we made it to the encores, starting with “Gotta Be Somebody.” I always like the way they do this one live, and this night was no exception.
“This Afternoon”, a song about drinking some beers with your buddies was next, and this one always takes me back to Long Island with my crew from back home, one or two of whom are no longer with us. The band didn’t want to get off stage just yet, and we weren’t prepared to let them, so when they saw a young lady holding up a sign referring to “If Today Was Your Last day” they said “Fuck it” and played it. These boys love their improv, I can say that.
Mr. Daughtry was brought out one more time for an impromptu version of “Born On the Bayou” from CCR (look it up, lazy!!) and then it was time for the boys to drive in the final run with “Burn It to the Ground.” Now THIS is the L.I. Crew’s drinkin’ anthem since 2008, and we’ve hoisted many a shot to it.
I screamed along loudly to this one and Mini-Amps hopped around a bit more before we went back out into the night. When it was all over he was exhausted. NICKELBACK gave everybody their money’s worth and then some, as they played twenty-one songs, including two classic covers over a two hour span. Chad and Co. turned a rock concert into more of a backyard party and everyone had a great time, us included. I couldn’t have asked for a better first concert with my son; the first of many. If you have the chance to catch the Feed the Machine Tour before it ends in October, I highly suggest you do so.
LIVE IMAGES: KATE DREXEL PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO