Big Wreck’s Monumental Performance Overshadowed By A Rockstar

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Let’s not bury the lead here, half way through Big Wreck’s first of their encore, Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger took to the microphone to participate in a cover of the lead single off of AC/DC’s album The Razor’s Edge.

Leaving the sold-out Commodore Ballroom crowd awestruck with their version of  “Thunderstruck”, the 604 Records boss man joined Ian Thornley and mates in a well-replicated version of the 1990’s classic song from the Australian legends. Straight killing it on the immediately recognizable guitar intro, Brian Doherty did Angus Young justice in what was a very technically proficient show Friday night.

Coming out of the gate with a fairly stoic demeanour, Ian Thornley tamed the beast that is the daily calibration of his voice during the first two songs “Look What I Found” and the sing-along slice of Canadiana “That Song”; both from Big Wreck’s debut LP In Loving Memory Of…

Noticeably slurring his speech between songs for the first third of the show, if Thornley was in an altered-state on stage in Vancouver it didn’t reflect once the music started; he and the entire band having put on a musical clinic from opening song to closer.

Playing to a slightly older crowd than I had expected, there was no shortage of adoration for Canada’s answer to Chris Cornell, who by all counts is just getting better with age.  

By the time the band launched into their third track of the night “Inhale”, one of two on the night from The Pleasure and the Greed album, the band was in full beast mode and commanded the impressive Commodore Ballroom crowd’s attention and enthusiasm.

Having a long standing history of paying homage to Pink Floyd, Friday night was no different this time toying with “Another Brick in the Wall”, during “Ghosts”; the title track from the band’s fourth and most recent album.

Often thought of as Canadian due to Thornley’s Toronto roots, the Boston, Massachusetts formed band only strayed from their own four album catalogue on the two aforementioned covers and the show’s closer, “Come Again”.

Surprising to see Chad Kroger on stage after how unhappy Thornley was with the meddling of 604 Records producer Gavin Brown, during the two-album stint Thornley had with the label. After Big Wreck broke up in 2002, Thornley went on to release two albums under the Vancouver based and Chad Kroeger owned 604 Records. Thornley has publically stated that the label owned by Kroeger (who openly admits to designing songs around a hit making formula) was responsible for overproducing his two records with them, ignoring the protests of the talent who thrives with a certain raw energy in his signature sound.

In the ever so popular trend that is hating on Kroeger and Nickelback I am going to stray from the herd and reveal that the only real downside to Kroeger’s cameo appearance came with the focus that it stole from the overall greatness of Big Wreck’s entire set.

Perhaps it was no coincidence (given what we know) that the only 604 Thornley track that was incorporated into the Big Wreck set came at the very end and immediately after Kroeger’s appearance. The song” Come Again” played in a fashion containing less commercialized sheen than the album and closer to that of the demos Thornley submitted prior to 604 Records’ running their formulaic fingers over it.  

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