Nickelback have announced a summer tour on which they will play their 2005 album All the Right Reasons in its entirety.
It’s their best-selling album, certified 10x platinum—even taking record label shadiness into account, this is a record that a lot of people bought. It’s also an album with a lot of hits. “Photograph,” “Far Away,” and “Rockstar” were all Top 10 singles, and “Savin’ Me” and “If Everyone Cared” made the top 20. Two other songs, “Animals” and “Side of a Bullet,” were also released. Seven singles from an album with 11 tracks: That’s some Bruce Springsteen/Prince/Michael Jackson-level chart action.
Does that make All The Right Reasons an album that needs to be played front to back on tour, though? No, it does not.
Nickelback are what I call a “hits-and-filler” band. If a track from one of their albums isn’t sent to radio, there’s a goddamn good reason. And rock history is littered with acts like this. Some of the best-known bands of the classic-rock era—including some that will be out on the road in 2020—are prime examples of the “hits-and-filler” ethos.
Take the Eagles, who’ll be at the Xcel Energy Center in April. They might be the ultimate “hits-and-filler” band, because their album tracks aren’t just mediocre, they’re often actively wretched. There isn’t one song on an Eagles album that should have been a single but wasn’t. And yet, they’re gonna be playing Hotel California front to back this year. There’s a song on Hotel California called “Wasted Time,” and man, does it live up to its title. “Pretty Maids All in a Row”? “Try and Love Again”? “The Last Resort”? Nobody needs to hear these songs live.
On the other hand, the Doobie Brothers, who’ll be at the Minnesota State Fair on August 28, are too smart to indulge themselves this way. They have lots of hits—“Long Train Runnin’,” “China Grove,” “What a Fool Believes”—but not one front-to-back great album, and a lot of filler tracks (“Rio,” “Clear as the Driven Snow,” almost all of Stampede). And they know it, so their tour is almost guaranteed to play to their strengths and be exactly the greatest-hits show fans want.
Plenty of other classic-rock acts—Bad Company, Foreigner (Treasure Island Event Center, March 13), Aerosmith—are in the same position. For every “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Jukebox Hero,” or “Walk This Way,” there’s a “Wild Fire Woman,” a “Girl On the Moon,” or an “Uncle Salty”: songs that only made the album because one more song was needed, or because the band was incredibly high the whole time.
It’s not too late, Nickelback. You can abandon this idea. Just keep playing the five big hits from All the Right Reasons, like you’ve been doing on every tour since 2005, and leave “Follow You Home,” “Next Contestant,” and “Someone That You’re With” for the diehard fans who still have CD players in their cars.