Thursday, December 18, 2008

Concert DVD Review: Nickelback -- Live at Sturgis 2006


In one of their many poignant rock ballads about the complexities of romantic relationships and what happens when love turns from a "paperback novel" into "Hollywood horror," Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger vocalizes, "these five words in my head scream "are we having fun yet?" And when it comes to seeing Nickelback live and in concert, he and his three other band-mates not only want to make sure everyone is "having fun," but shortly after their 2006 "Rockin' The Rally" show in Sturgis, South Dakota begins, " he yells out a question to the sold-out, adoring and rabid fanbase of 35,000 screaming participants by asking them if they're "ready to have a good f***in' time tonight?!"

However, since this Sturgis show was being filmed for the band's first live DVD release in six years for an exclusive patronage of Walmart shoppers, Chad's language is cleaned up with the obligatory over-dubs of silent blanks to camoflauge his love of the f-bomb not to mention the many, many young women who inexplicably felt the need to party like it's Woodstock in 1969 by flashing their breasts which are also blocked from sight in the twelve song DVD concert.

So while it's not an authentic Nickelback experience the likes of which my enthusiast brother has shared stories of with me for months since seeing them live, it's the next best thing to see the guys in all of their guitar metal and pyrotechnic glory rocking it hard and fast for a select 35,000 member crowd lucky enough to score tickets out of the 500,000 bikers who rev into the otherwise "sleepy town of Sturgis" for one week in August every single year for "Rockin' the Rally" and Sturgis Bike Week events.

With a crowd filled with enough leather to send a PETA spokesperson into a nervous breakdown and enough piercings and tattoos to make any suburban mother hit still pause and warn their daughter that she's never supposed to bring one of those bad boys home for dinner, the band rips into some of their greatest hits including their first big radio friendly smash "How You Remind Me" that played nonstop during the year of 2001 as well as other favorites including "Photograph," "Someday," and "Savin' Me," all of which get the audience singing along.

Alternating between their power ballads and fast-living and loving, they journey into their darker territory with tunes like "Never Again," which-- while performed well-- manages to hit a sour note by following up Chad Kroeger's compliment to the beautiful female breasts being flashed his direction with its segue into a song about horrific physical abuse.

Filmed with fifteen high definition cameras including one poor cameraman literally hanging out of a helicopter to get the shots he wanted as he flies above the concert-- the picture and sound quality is second to none, giving DVD buyers the opportunity to watch it with four different sound options including DTS, Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound, Stero, and SRS Circle Surround. In fact, it was such an impressive transfer that seemed like so much painstaking technical work had been involved in its creation that I was only surprised to discover that it wasn't released in the Blu-ray option as well to guarantee the highest definition in picture quality.

The DVD also features a music video for their newer hit "Rockstar," a twelve page gorgeous oversized booklet of photos and information, a roughly seventeen minute documentary that takes you behind-the-scenes as the guys discuss life rocking audiences a la Groundhog Day with the same circus over and over again until a" switch flips" and they go into "muscle memory" to give an energetic show (also helped by B-12 shots), along with a Sturgis 101 Vignette, and Photo Gallery.

While the length of the show transferred to DVD is disapointing as it only boasts twelve songs especially considering it's the first live DVD release since 2002 and die-hard purists will be disappointed by the censorship of Kroeger and the female flashers, it's a great celebration of their power as a performance band to fire-up that many people within seconds as well as a testament of their musical diversity when you realize the intracacies of the lyrics of some of the song where the drums, bass, and dueling guitars threaten to overpower the words.

Available exclusively at Walmart although there are some DVDs also popping up from sellers via Amazon, Nickelback Live at Sturgis 2006 makes a nice companion disc to ensure their fans are "having fun yet" alongside their November 18 CD release of their newest album Dark Horse, which the guys collaborated on with the legendary Robert John "Mutt" Lange.