When you can’t silence the haters, the only other option is to drown them out.
This is what Nickelback did last night with a du Arena performance that was both slick and occasionally thrilling.
The band’s years spent performing to big crowds really showed, with the Canadians ticking all the “key performance inidicators” of a corporate rock show: there were special “Nickelback guns” that shoot out T-shirts, faultless editing of the footage on the large screens and incessant commands “to party” and “let’s have fun” and “let’s rock”.
Then, of course, there were the songs; all big monolithic things designed to crush the most jaded listener with ear-worm hooks and cathartic choruses.
Despite the calculated nature of it all, the Nickelback live experience does reveal and confirm certain aspects about theband.
The surprising thing is that the group are more fun than they get credit for.
Years of glossy cover albums and video clips of morose band performances in front of dive bars, hospitals and the great open road understandably fostered an image that the lads were dull at best.
However, on stage they were all smiles, with the frontman Chad Kroeger marshalling all the action like a peppy sports announcer.
Critics deride the group for peddling second-rate grunge, but live, the group look further back to the glam acts of the 1980s.
The big hit Something in Your Mouth is a modern-day version of Motley Crue’s Girls Girls Girls, while Bottoms Up is the kind of stomping hard-rock Poison rode to fame.
Nickelback performed these songs well enough, with Kroeger particularly in fine voice.
However, to really pull off such a style live – as Poison and Motley Crue knew – you need to go all the way performance-wise and Nickelback’s stage persona lacks the pizzaz required.
Here lies the show’s confirmation: Nickelback are, in fact, a metal band trapped in a pop group.
When the metal monster reared it’s head, as in the forceful opener This Means War and the driving Animals, Nickelback amassed an awesome fury.
But just when the show was about to take an interesting aggressive edge, the pop group returns with ditties well-crafted (Photograph and Lullaby) and insipid (Rock Star and Trying Not to Love You).
One can’t help but grudgingly respect Nickelback’s determination to plough through it all and please the fans despite this identity crisis.
Conversely, it is this admirable commitment the haters use against Nickelback, but love in other bands.
Not that Nickelback care, I suspect it’s hard to hear the negative chatter above the roar of a 20,000-strong crowd.