SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nickelback started their show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Monday night running through a string of early hits before relying on their later songs to fill the core of the set. In the end, they had plenty of familiar tunes to keep the 12,000-plus on their feet throughout the concert.
Front man Chad Kroeger has a strong, coarse voice, and gave us his full range, from the softer “Photograph” and “If Everyone Cared” to the more aggressive “Feed the Machine” and “If Today was your Last Day.”
“Let’s call an audible,” he said midway through the set, announcing “Because of You,” which he claimed they hadn’t tried since last winter. “I feel like doing a rocker . . . with a heavy guitar riff.” The version was strong and tight: Maybe it was an audible, maybe it wasn’t.
For all his gruff singing, he spoke between songs with the clarity and inflection of a game show host, telling corny jokes and stories and talking too often. Before “Where Do I Hide,” he explained that his childhood friend Cory repeatedly broke out of detention centers, counting on Kroeger and friends to hide him somewhere in his hometown. This was one of their heavier, hard-driving tunes, which he called a deep cut for “the 11 hardcore fans.”
After polling the audience about who bought their latest record, he sang a few from it, including “Song on Fire.” This didn’t have the pulse of their heavy stuff, or the melodic hooks of their pop hits, but it was decent.
Kroeger likened Nickelback to the drink Jagermeister, stating: Some love it or some hate it, but there was no in between.
Notable tunes included “Far Away, “Too Bad,” and “Someday.” But the show dragged down during “Rockstar,” when they took their time to bring on stage four audience members, situated them with microphones, and together sang the song. The bit was unnecessary and robbed the audience of a great tune. Fortunately the band recovered quickly with “When We Stand Together” before launching into the final stretch.
Daughtry preceded Nickelback with a hard-hitting one-hour set. The man sings every song with all his might and it seems to come easy for him. A few songs started off like gentle ballads, like “Crawling Back to You,” but then the band slammed into it full force, and Chris Daughtry was at full volume instantly. At one point he told us he was turning “up to 11.”
Despite his attack of the song, he has a humble, likeable presence on stage, hence his initial success on "American Idol" years ago, and a sustainable career 10 years later.
“This song is about a dude in a cape,” he said before starting “Superman,” which turned into a giant sing-along.
He played mostly his hits, like “Home,” which he credited with landing him a record deal. And most of them moved with the same force and tempo. Four members left the stage for Daughtry and the keyboardist to play the Metallica cover “Nothing Else Matters.” This diverged from the crowd of tunes, and scored big with the fans.
Daughtry told us that Kroeger called him up to offer him the song “Life After You.” When Daughtry didn’t jump at the chance, Kroeger, according to Daughtry, said he’d give it to Keith Urban. “Keith Urban has enough money,” Daughtry said to the crowd before and after the song. In the end, Daughtry and Kroeger finished writing the song together.