Let’s all stop pretending Nickelback are anything but mint – their gig at Manchester’s AO Arena proved it

The anti-Nickelback narrative stops now.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 21st May 2024

Don’t ask us how, why or when, but once upon a time, long, long ago, half the world decided that they didn’t like Nickelback and that’s just the way it’s been ever since.

In fact, they’re probably one of the most Marmite acts, not to mention most memed bands on the planet – they even have a new documentary called Hate to Love – but we’re here to put a stop to that today.

Who knows what it was that put a bee in the collective bonnet when it came to Nickelback all those years ago, all we know is that we’re bored of it and you shouldn’t waste a second more of your life pretending to hate them.

This isn’t even a guilty pleasure thing: we have absolutely no shame in ‘confessing’ that we think Nickelback are mint and their gig at the AO Arena in Manchester on Monday night proved it.

Top-notch support from homegrown heroes

Exhibit A: it all started with an absolutely perfect choice of support act in The Lottery Winners. While you could argue their brand of indie rock doesn’t necessarily line up with what you’d expect most Nickelback fans to listen to, their pop sensibility and love of proper catchy hooks definitely do.


The local band from just down the road in Leigh continue to be one of our favourite Manchester bands at the minute not least because of their banter and energy up on the stage.

Yes, their tunes are great and we particularly loved the audience participation they got going for ‘Start Again’ (we would have really loved Frank Turner to suddenly appear for his bit), but it was Tom’s effortless Manc chat and jokey but sincere energy throughout the set that won over the crowd.


By the time they were about to leave the stage they managed to get the crowd jumping arguably just as much as they did when the headliners came out. Speaking of…

They know how to make an entrance

After a short little intro from a running VT of a getaway van leading a police chase that looked like a cutscene from some kind of late 2000s PS3 trailer (you just have to chuckle at the over-the-top Americana of it all), they erupted on stage to kick things into fifth gear.

They say Canadians are famously polite but there was nothing reserved about this entrance; they smashed the doors down to set the arena to full party mode with banger after banger and, honestly, we forgot just how many they had.


It’s not often you hear this phase unironically, but this was, as Chad put it, a good old fashioned ‘rock show’ and the roughly 20,000 fans were all ‘rocking out’ from start to finish.

The four-piece were very much enjoying a little bit of naughtiness from the Manchester crowd too, with the camera panning to a woman holding a sign that read ‘I like my pants around my feet’ – the first line from ‘Figured It Out’ – to which the frontman replied, “me too” before proceeding to play the song in full.

Plenty more shenanigans

Those little moments of funny nonsense didn’t stop there either – not even close.

From jokingly introing the song as ‘Look at this graaaph’ and confessing that they do have the internet, to getting a member of the crew on stage to serve shots as they got the crowd to chant his name, they were just having fun and throwing some very good tunes in between.

That slightly odd and nostalgic visualiser kept popping up in the background every now and again too but the icing on the cake had to be when they got a literal Chad Kroeger lookalike on stage to sing ‘Rockstar’ with them.


You’ve not quite lived until you’ve seen a somewhat tipsy Manc with the original long, blonde Nickelback hair in a black band tee tucked into blue jeans and a big shiny belt buckle genuinely make the actual bloke from Nickelback want to grow his back.

A shining moment

There were lots of highlights and particularly memorable moments to pick out amongst all the fun.

Be it rhythm guitarist Ryan Peake explaining how the QR code on the screen was to help raise funds for wells in the third world before they played ‘When We Stand Together’, or hearing everyone roll back the years as they raspily sang ‘How You Remind Me’, we were spoilt for choice.

Watching the AO Arena bouncing to ‘Burn It to The Ground’ was also up there with some of the standouts, but there was no more beautiful sight than seeing the band bring The Lottery Winners back out on stage to have an arena full of Mancs belting out ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.



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Chad said at the time, “Now we know you can sing”, and true to form we were in full voice from that moment on, singing every word, every line and every song from what suddenly felt like a greatest hits tour because the truth is, Nickelback are great and you’re just lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

We were slightly gutted we didn’t get to hear ‘This Means War’, ‘Never Gonna Be Alone’ and a fair few others, but that’s what happens when you take a band that has been around for nearly three decades, with a discography this rich, and try to cram everything into a couple of hours.

So we’re hoping that puts an end to his nonsense that the rock veterans are rubbish because they’re not, they’re mint. Come on, join us – the dark days are over and we’re saying it’s ok to admit you like them.

And just wait, we’re coming for you Coldplay haters next…

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Featured Images — The Manc Group/Supplied (via AO Arena)