Concert review: Dude! Nickelback was awesome

Finding 10 things to love about the oft-maligned Canadian hard-rockers at their sold-out show.

Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger performing at Target Center Tuesday night.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Canadian hard-rock hitmakers Nickelback returned to Minneapolis on Tuesday for what seemed like their umpteenth packed-to-the-roof Target Center concert, on another tour to support another in a long line of albums with singles that earn incessant radio play.

Let's break from tradition and offer at least one unpredictable thing about the show: This is not going to be yet another snide review of music critics' most-hated rock band of the decade.

There will be no jokes about frontman Chad Kroeger's weirdly sculpted rock-star hair, nor any lines that link the band to the long line of other questionable Canadian rock groups.

Instead, here's a list of 10 positives -- that the 15,500 fans might tell their friends about the concert.

1. The band performed for two hours and even threw in a drum solo. Woo-hoo.

2. Those two hours offered more explosions, flaming devices and other pyrotechnic effects than a "Fast & the Furious" movie. Sure, critics say the band uses pyro to cover up the brawny sameness of its music. But brawny sameness didn't stop the latest "F&F" from taking in $72.5 million last weekend.

3. They avoided trying to be coy or cunning with their raunchy lyrics, like AC/DC does. They just come right out with the sexism. Case in point, during "Figure You Out," Kroeger drew a roomful of screams when he growled, "I like your pants around your feet/ I like the dirt on your knees."

4. The band's montage of photographs was extremely literal during -- what else? -- its mega-hit "Photograph." When Kroeger sang, "This is where I went to school," they showed a school on the big screen. When he offered the most universal memory he could possibly sing about, "We used to listen to the radio," they showed a radio.

5. Kroeger offered the perfect cure for rock singers who forget which city they're in. "It's great to be back in your town," he howled several times. Later, he did sort of remember playing the Quest nightclub seven years ago or so. "We might've been drunk," he said.

6. The cover of Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot" was a nice touch.

7. The version of "Rockstar," performed on the small acoustic stage in the center of the arena, turned into one of the biggest crowd singalongs of recent memory.

8. As for that crowd, it was uniquely diverse -- not in a racial sense, of course, but demographically, with bikers and their chicks sitting by ball-capped golfers, frat boys and young women with fake tans.

9. No kidding: The band upgraded from its standard T-shirt shooter to something called "T-shirt sniper rifles," with better aim and power. Dude!

10. Seether's opening set proved the South Africa-reared next-gen grunge band is just one good pyro show and one overblown radio hit away from being arena headliners themselves. Its cover of Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" screamed cliche, but its own hit "Rise Above This" was far and away the best song played at Target Center over the past five days.

Hey, I didn't say I would stop ripping on Britney Spears.

See Nickelback's set list at startribune.com/poplife. Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658

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