WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DAKOTA KING
Despite the Arctic Cold Front that gripped Toronto’s waterfront on Sunday, February 22nd, the Air Canada Centre was torched ablaze as Grammy-nominated and Juno award-winning Canadian heavy rock quartet Nickelback, who released their eighth record No Fixed Address via Republic Records November 14th, 2014, and American rock quartet The Pretty Reckless, who released their second studio album Going To Hell via Razor and Tie March 12th, 2014, ignited fans alike for an evening of rock as part of the “No Fixed Address World Tour”.
Before Nickelback took to the stage, The Pretty Reckless attempted to energize an unenthusiastic crowd by plunging into a set comprised of songs from their albums Light Me Up and Going To Hell. Front woman Taylor Momsen, known for roles such as little miss Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch and little miss Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl, evolved into a bewitching performer who sashayed and gyrated alongside her fellow band mates, tossing her luscious blonde hair around and tantalizing fans with her grungy, racy nature.
Her voice, unique and brazen yet muscle-strong, filled the Air Canada Centre as the band opened with the devious, soulful, attitude-ridden single “Follow Me Down”. Lead guitarist and supporting vocalist Ben Phillips shredded twangy, bluesy guitar solos that preluded the radio hit singles “Heaven Knows”, and “Going To Hell”, tickling the audience’s rock feels and striking some interaction with the crowd. Progressively, they became involved due in part to Momsen’s efforts on stage and with much surprise during “Going To Hell”, they chanted and recited parts of the lyrics back at her when called upon, as according to Momsen, the song is “not that f’ing hard to sing along to”. Undeterred, the band carried on and delivered a satisfying performance, solidifying the fact that The Pretty Reckless are a force to be reckoned with.
As soon as the lights dimmed down and the opening chords to “Million Miles An Hour” rang out across the arena, fans leapt from their seats and into delirium, spilling precious beer onto the floors and onto their neighbours. It got loud, fast, as front man Chad Kroeger and his band mates emerged into sight. “It’s so great to be playing a rock’n’roll show on Canadian soil!” he called out to the thousands in the audience as soon as the opportunity arose. Known for his charming personality and being a ladies man, panties were likely dropped when Kroeger sent “Far Away” “out to all the ladies” in attendance.
Fans were met with plenty of interaction and dialogue from Kroeger; at one point he sniffed out the aroma of pot and suggested to fans that they blow the smoke up front, to the stage. “Pot cookies are welcome,” Kroeger advised. Even though their light show and mediocre pyrotechnics were en pointe, there was more chit chat and conversing than energy. In between every song Kroeger bantered, joked, drank, and drank some more; but fans embraced these moments, especially when the band paid homage to metal greats Metallica and Pantera all whilst Kroeger threw beer in red solo cups at the audience, and when the band initiated a karaoke, sing-along to snippets from the Eagles classics “Take It Easy” and “Hotel California”.
As the band flawlessly pelted out hits “Too Bad” and “How You Remind Me”, the crowd was ultimately pleased at hearing their old-school Nickelback favourites. When they exited the stage, it was expected and known by all in the crowd that the boys would return for an encore. Regardless, the ACC buzzed and when the audiences demands were met, backing vocalist Ryan Peake led the band in their first encore song, a rendition of the Foo Fighters “Everlong”.
Even though it is evident that Nickelback’s performances have lost their vivacity and steam, fans in general left fulfilled and wound up. Even though the band is labelled the laughing stock of the music industry to some, they will always have support from their loyal fan base, no matter how much ‘hate’ gets thrown at them- and that says something.
The Pretty Reckless Setlist:
Follow Me Down
Since You’ve Been Gone
Make Me Wanna Die
Going To Hell
Fucked Up World
Million Miles an Hour
Something in Your Mouth
Gotta Be Somebody
Edge of a Revolution
Master of Puppets/Walk Snippets while red solo cups and beer were tossed into the crowd
Moby Dick (Led Zeppelin cover and drum Solo)
She Keeps Me Up
Take It Easy/Hotel California (Karaoke, Sing-Along)
When We Stand Together
How You Remind Me
Everlong (Foo Fighters cover with Ryan Peake on Lead Vocals)
Burn It to the Ground