Entertainment
A PLACE TO (ALMOST) CALL HOME: Nickleback, native to Hanna, Alberta, blew away a sold out crowd at the Stampede Corral last Thursday. Here, Mike Kroeger belts out another chart-topping hit.
Aaron Whitfield/The Gauntlet

Homesickness sets in again

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There were plenty of high hopes in the sold out Stampede Corral, and Nickleback didn't disappoint.

Frontman Chad Kroeger scored a frenzied reaction when he started the night by thanking fans in true rock-star style.

"I would like to thank everyone who stood in line, borrowed someone's credit card, stole some money or sold some weed to be here tonight," he shouted to the responsive audience.

Tickets sold out in a little over an hour and that was no surprise to clamouring fans at last year's show.

Still, drummer Ryan Vikedal is amazed at his band's success.

"I was shocked about how places on the Canadian tour have sold out because we haven't toured here for three years," said Vikedal in interview before the show. "I'm excited to be playing in all these places again."

Nickleback played all their latest songs along with a couple of the old favourites such as "Hard to Swallow" and "Old Enough." However, fans had to wait for the encore to hear their big hit, "How you Remind Me," but hearing the stage version of the song made up for it. Paying homage to their hometown, Kroeger and guitarist Ryan Peake wore jeans, T-shirts and cowboy boots to play the first
chorus unplugged. Then, bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Vikedal, complete with a Flames jersey, burst back on stage to play the rest in full-rock style.

Despite expensive pyrotechnics, a stage complete with platforms, ramps and a black curtain backdrop with their name across in white, the crowd wanted interaction and intimacy before responding. Sensing this, Kroeger pulled out a camcorder and asked the audience to raise their fingers. Then, he hopped off the stage and ran around the floor to tape everyone-the crowd went nuts.

Based on the response in the weeks prior to the show, Nickleback undoubtedly could have sold out the Saddledome. While they settled for the smaller venue, Kroeger felt the same way.

"Growing up in Southern Alberta I dreamed of playing at the Saddledome some day," he shouted between songs. "Next time we come back to town I want to be playing in that God damned place!"

Dreams and hopes aside, next up for Nickleback is a new album, and most of the songs are ready for pre-production. They tested out one of the new songs on Calgarians Thursday night.

"If you get a good reaction it could possibly be on the next album, but if the crowd is confused we may have to rework a song," said Vikedal, although it didn't sound like the crowd minded during the show. Judging by the new songs heard that night, the band hasn't strayed from what works-Kroeger's personal lyrics melded to the band's pleasing melodies.

The small-town boys from Southern Alberta have risen to the heights of international fame, and there is a war of words between many cities to call Nickleback their own.

"Vancouver can claim us all they want, but you know where we came from," said Kroeger. Only a hometown crowd could respond with such yelling and screaming.

Nonetheless, it's more interesting to look at where they're going, which seems to be everywhere from Australia to Vancouver to Germany.

"We've been touring for so long that I can count the number of times I've been home since August using my fingers," said Vikedal, adding that he probably shouldn't complain. "It's not like my job is hard-it's more like a vacation getting to tour and travel."

Right here in Calgary, however, Nickleback started strong and it seemed to last forever. Sadly, by the end of the night there was a chill in the air once fans realized it would be a while before they would see their "hometown" band again.

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