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John Lamb, Published May 20 2012

Review: Nickelback Bush-whacked at Fargodome

FARGO – On Saturday, the Fargodome was a sea of crushed water cups and sweaty people in vibrant colors as runners finished the Fargo Marathon. Sunday night it was littered with empty keg cups and sweaty people in Ed Hardy T-shirts for the return of hard rockers Nickelback.

Sunday’s sweat was courtesy of the pyro for the group’s first song, “This Means War,” with columns of flame shooting up from the back of the stage.

The stage show was nearly blinding as strobes and spotlights lit up the room. While there is a sameness to much of the group’s songs, they gave fans a completely different show from when they played the Dome two years ago, and the best stage show the building has seen since Bon Jovi last played here in 2010.

After the ballads “Photograph” and “Far Away,” the foursome ran to the center of the floor and boarded a round stage that rose above the crowd during the heavier “Bottoms Up,” “Someday” and an acoustic take on “Rock Star.”

Singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger plays the rock star to the hilt. He led the group through rock concert standards, playing to the locals by repeatedly asking if Fargo was ready to party and/or rock and shifting from another ballad (there were lots) “Lullaby” to something about making the world a better place called “When We Stand Together.” The latter led into the obligatory drum solo.

While most of the crowd didn’t look old enough to have been a fan since Bush’s 1995 debut, Gavin Rossdale and the boys proved they were just as good – if not better – than ever, revving up the crowd from its opener, “Machine Head.”

Somebody forgot to tell Rossdale that he wasn’t the headliner, because he single-handedly stole the show.

He teased the crowd by throwing down and grinding his guitar during “Everything Zen” in a move that was quite Prince-like. He then made new fans by jumping to the floor singing The Beatles’ “Come Together.” He not only ran the perimeter of the floor slapping hands, he climbed halfway up the east stands to sing. And like The Beatles, the sinewy singer had girls screaming into the mic. By the end of the set, he had nearly everyone singing along to “Comedown.”

Seether channeled Nirvana, buzzing feedback between the handful of songs they played in their 40-minute set, though fans likely would’ve preferred more tunes. Still the crowd rallied for the group’s anthem closer, “Remedy,” complete with singer/guitarist Shaun Morgan not only sounding like Kurt Cobain, but also smashing his guitar on the stage.

I guess they do all want to be big rock stars.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533