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Nickelback strikes chord with fans at Fargodome

Chad Kroeger of Nickelback performs Thursday night at the Fargodome. David Samson/The Forum

Perhaps more than any other act, Nickelback elicits a love or hate reaction.

It was all love for the Canadian quartet Thursday night at the Fargodome.

If there were any haters in the crowd, they were drowned out by the 12,733 fans. And a lot of loud music. And a lot of pyrotechnics.

In fact, a series of blasts went off before the group even opened with "Burn it to the Ground" and more fireworks and fountains of flames.

In case you didn't know, the hard-rocking outfit isn't much for subtlety. Singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger's lyrics are as blunt and in-your-face as his power chord riffs.

Or his power ballads. During the first of the night, "Photograph," snapshots of the group flashed on the big screen along with images of the F-M Derby Girls, the RedHawks, the Bison, the Fargo Theatre and, of course, the woodchipper scene from "Fargo."

Kroeger was just trying to make fans feel at home, repeatedly shouting "FARGO," talking about a killer after-party the last time he played the dome (2006) and throwing beers into the crowd. Apparently Canadian hospitality revolves around lots of drinking, a favorite topic throughout the night between songs.

Those in attendance were happy to be at the party, standing through the whole two-hour set and often throwing fists and devil horns in the air.

Fans especially appreciated Kroeger and Co. moving to the end of the catwalk for an amped-up romp through their current party anthem, "This Afternoon."

The song was more charged live than the studio version, but it still seems to be paving the way for a country crossover. Further proof was half a spin through Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places."

The group returned to its own material for "If Today was Your Last Day," but went back to their influences for Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and later Bon Jovi's "Wanted (Dead or Alive)."

As much as fans liked watching Nickelback play jukebox, they came for the group's stadium anthems and the group delivered with "Rock Star," even if Kroeger changed the last lyrics to "porn star."

After all, what goes better with rock 'n' roll and drinking than sex? But it also made for some awkward moments as Kroeger hinted he needed some bras from the crowd for his mic stand, despite later acknowledging the crowd was "exceptionally young." No young women obliged, though the camera man made sure to flash the faces (and cleavage) of some on the screen.

But maybe that's just Nickelback. After all, Kroeger gave a lengthy intro to the tune "Something in Your Mouth."

The night wasn't all testosterock.

Shinedown dedicated "If You Only Knew" to the ladies and toward the end of a 40-minute set that seemed almost as much talk as rock dedicated Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" to Slipknot bassist Paul Gray, who was found dead in a motel room Monday.

But Nickelback was able to overcome the mellow mood and throw a big, loud party.