Photo slideshow: Bublé Opens Pinnacle Bank Arena
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LINCOLN — All 12,000 seats were sold, and though Michael Bublé was the headliner, many came early for the opening act: Pinnacle Bank Arena itself.
Open for its first big event, the brand new arena welcomed concertgoers 90 minutes early, and many arrived to roam the halls and sample the food before, eventually, checking out Bublé.
Abby Dux and Christina Dirks, both 23, stopped downtown for dinner before heading to the show. The Lincoln women sipped wine before the concert and gushed about the arena.
“It's amazing,” Dirks said.
“I've never seen anything like it before,” Dux added.
Self-proclaimed Bublé fanatics — they were excited to hear his tune “Everything” — the women compared the new arena to Lincoln's aging Pershing Center.
“It's not even on the same scale,” Dux said.
With thousands of people in the building for the first time, arena officials were happy to report no hiccups with plumbing or the building's sound system.
“It's been a great evening,” said I.J. Rosenblum, the arena's director of operations. “Everything's gone perfectly according to plan.”
And they were extremely happy with Bublé, who brought the sold-out crowd.
“You can't ask for a better opening night act,” said Derek Andersen, the arena's marketing manager.
In a tuxedo, the crooner kicked off his set by giving the crowd a fever.
Hot jets of flame (so warm I could feel them from my seat) shot from the stage as the bow-tied Bublé sang “Fever,” which he followed with his hit “Haven't Met You Yet.”
Those first two songs were reflective of the rest of the two-hour set, which included his hits as well as selections from the Great American Songbook.
He also mixed in plenty of more modern classics, including Van Morrison's “Moondance,” The Beatles' “All You Need Is Love,” Elvis' “Burning Love” and even the very recent “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk.
“This is a rare opportunity for any entertainer,” Bublé said to the screaming crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time, welcome to Pinnacle Bank Arena. They did a beautiful job.
“It's one of the great highlights of my career to be here tonight and open this building for you.”
Fans cheered when he talked about the building, they laughed when he poked fun at fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, and they went absolutely wild when he donned a black Husker jersey (the same ones they'll wear today) and cracked wise on UCLA.
Bublé definitely knows how to please a crowd. That said, he is at his best with his voice.
He proved that on pop songs like “Everything” and the saccharine “It's a Beautiful Day,” but it took until his encore for Bublé to really let loose.
“Cry Me a River” pushed his range, and the finale, Leon Russell's “A Song For You,” saw Bublé step away from his microphone and sing to a silent arena completely unplugged.
His pitch-perfect voice filled the arena.
“To be a part of what will be a rich history, it means a helluva lot to me,” Bublé said. “As a singer — I told the gentlemen that built it — I think this place really sounds good. So thank God.”
Indeed, Mr. Bublé.
Many arenas don't always have great acoustics, but Bublé and his 13-piece band sounded quite nice in the cavernous space.
My first experience of Pinnacle Bank Arena was a very good one. In addition to the sound quality, the venue's amenities were top notch, too.
Many people joined me in eating dinner at the arena. Tables that lined the concourse were filled with people eating from paper baskets.
I tried the Capitol City Steak Sandwich ($10), which came with pub fries. The sandwich is served with bacon crumbles, grilled onions and provolone cheese, but mine was absent of everything but the steak. Served on a ciabatta roll, the strips of steak were grilled and very, very tender. It was still a good sandwich, but the toppings or some steak sauce would have really set it off.
I also tried the BBQ nachos ($8). Picture tortilla chips covered in a deep pile of tender pulled pork and smoked turkey that is then drowned in barbecue sauce. Served with a cup of nacho cheese, the BBQ nachos should also come with a fork. The pile was messy but delicious, and I may have found my new favorite food.
Lines at the concessions went fast, and the staff flew through the orders quickly, which is probably a result of the arena staffing the place with a veritable army of friendly, smiling people.
Prices for concessions did feel high — $7.50 for a draft beer, $8 for a cocktail and $7 for cheeseburger and fries — but arenas aren't exactly known to be friendly to one's wallet.
My favorite amenity at Pinnacle Bank Arena is the Capitol Terrace. The large terrace on the arena's south side overlooks R Street and the Railyard, and many people snapped photos with Lincoln as a backdrop, ate dinner at one of several tables on the terrace or stepped out in the fresh air for a smoke.
I wish every arena had a spot like it.
All in all, the arena's debut went off well.
“People are enjoying themselves and walking around with smiles on their faces,” Andersen said. “The community is really embracing this building.”