Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall / (C) MindHex Media
To borrow from my esteemed colleagues review of Extreme’s first album since 2008, ‘Six’ has given us a reason to go and see the band with such enthusiasm that almost every date on this, the band’s lengthy world tour, that started back in August, has sold out. What then has made the world sit up and take notice of the band whose last major chart-botherer was in 1991? My colleague Denys, explains it very well.
Not surprisingly, after blowing up the internet with the sick guitar solo in “Rise”, you couldn’t have possibly had higher expectations for the new record and the corresponding tour. From the chunky frenetic pace of the intro to Cherone’s excellent vocal styling to the amazing chorus, everything works here like a ticking time-bomb, the song just explodes at you; a perfect trendsetter to sucking people into the new album. Think of the first 3 songs on ‘Six’ as the trinity of tunes per-se, “Banshee” is another riff assault on the senses, but Cherone again just belts out some of his best all-time work, the harmonies and chunky rhythm is just sick. And how about this for a little bit snippet into the recording of the new one, Nuno told YouTube sensation Rick Beato that the late great Eddie Van Halen came to his studio trying to listen to the new material, and as Nuno explains, he was in the middle of recording the ‘Rise’ solo. In the end, he didn’t get a chance to show Eddie the new music, he said it was the last time he saw him as they didn’t know he would pass on shortly after. What a haunting story, has all the feels when you listen to this song.
So there you have it…. energy, emotion, the story behind the music, ‘Six’ has everything. No wonder then, the second date at the O2 Forum in London is packed to the rafters just a mere 2 weeks after the band had previously sold out the same venue. London, the rest of the UK and, it would appear, the world, needs some Extreme in their lives once again.
Supporting the band were none other than New York’s finest, Living Colour. The four-piece, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the somewhat ‘dark horse’ of their career, ‘Stain’, came on stage to a tremendous roar from the crowd. If the crowd was here for Extreme then there was a lot of love reserved for the New Yorkers as well.
Corey Glover is the epitome of a front-man. Sparkling with an outfit that catches every single light shone on him, and wearing sparkly silver slip on shoes, he oozed cool which was only enhanced by his amazing red and white dreadlocks. Watching the band on stage, it was hard to focus on much else as, in an outfit completed with rock star shades, Corey danced, sang, laughed and worked the crowd like the consummate professional he is.
Living Colour are one of those acts where the sum of all parts make the band what it is. Whilst Corey may well be the man front and centre, stage right sees one of the most interesting, fluid and innovative guitarists every to play live. No two solos from Vernon Reid ever sound the same, he goes off on runs that bring out as much of his jazz sensibilities as they do his rock roots and as such, every performance is guaranteed to be a little different from the last. The show at the Forum was no exception with fascinating solos that gave the audience ‘wow’ moments as much as they did ‘wait… what now’ elements as Vernon seemingly pulled of ‘more solo’ than could realistically fit inside his allocated window. Surprising, satisfying and surreal at times in equal measure.
The celebration of ‘Stain’ also heralded Doug Wimbish’s entry into the band and he’s been a mainstay ever since. Standing to Corey’s left, he presents levels of ‘cool’ so high that it could probably fix global warming. His bass runs, thick and groove laden, backed up by Will Calhoun behind the drum kit, gave the band their timeless sound one that continues to cross the boundaries between rock, funk, soul and jazz. It’s something that few others have achieved and makes perfect sense as to why the reception for the band was so strong, there was something for everyone.
With some great medley work mid-set as well as the classic ‘Time’s Up’, they closed, of course, with the epic ‘Cult Of Personality’. Bringing their A-game meant Extreme would have to do the same.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Open Letter (to a Landlord)
Love Rears Its Ugly Head
Cult of Personality
And so to Extreme, with their huge Gorilla back drop behind Kevin Figueiredo’s drum kit, it was no surprise that the backing tape introducing the band came from the 1976 version of the classic ‘King Kong’.
With the crowd still buzzing from Living Colour’s set, how then could Extreme keep it going? Simple, hit the ground running with a couple of absolute crowd pleasers in the shape of It (‘s a Monster) and Decadence Dance.
If Doug Wimbish brought the cool, then Gary Cherone brought the crazy. With the sort of energy levels that would make Elon Musk want to dissect him to see what makes him tick, Cherone must put itching power in his trousers before going on stage each night. Twisting, turning, bending, smiling, shouting, singing and when appropriate, flipping off the crowd (which is almost a Cherone trademarked act these days), Gary felt like the ring master in a circus. We should get him into Hugh Jackman’s top hat and tails if the opportunity ever arises.
The newer material, like ‘#REBEL’ for example, sat perfectly alongside the more well known material and, as I paused to check out the crowd, got just as positive a reaction which proves that when Extreme put new music out, whatever the delay, people stop and pay attention.
Like Living Colour, Extreme are no strangers to breaking out the medley with a few unexpected numbers thrown in for good measure. Again, they didn’t disappoint and with a beautiful homage to Sam Cooke that saw the venue singing ‘Cupid’ back to the band. Of course that paled in comparison to the universal sing along of ‘that song’ when Gary and Nuno sat down on bar stools with acoustic guitars.
There was almost nothing needed from the pair as Cherone tee’d up ‘More Than Words’ and then the crowd (as one) simply nodded to say “we’ve got this” before proceeding to sing the whole song from beginning to end. Beautiful, chilling, mesmerising and definitely one of those ‘moments’ everyone should experience.
Nuno’s solos that show just how much he loved and misses EVH were also a highlight with a frenetic ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ showcasing his status as a true guitar virtuoso. It was also encouraging to hear him talking to the crowd. Another band where the sum of the parts makes it an event and not just a show.
The sum of the parts really came together for me on my favourite and main set closer, ‘Get The Funk Out’ . With Pat Badger’s bass-line dripping with funk it remains one of the all time party anthems and simply doesn’t age. The perfect way to end the show before the roars of the appreciative crowd brought the band back out for a couple of the new songs to close.
A very very welcome back to Extreme. Here’s to many more years of music, just try and get the new material out a bit sooner please.
[INTRO] Sacrifice – Hail to the King (John Barry song) (Music from “King Kong” – 1976)
It (‘s a Monster)
Rest in Peace
Teacher’s Pet / Flesh ‘n’ Blood / Wind Me Up / Kid Ego
Play With Me (With Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ intro)
OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW
Cupid’s Dead (With Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’ intro)
Am I Ever Gonna Change
THICKER THAN BLOOD
More Than Words
BANSHEE (With Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ intro)
Take Us Alive / That’s All Right
Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee
Get the Funk Out
SMALL TOWN BEAUTIFUL / Song for Love
Gary Cherone, (vocals),
Nuno Bettencourt, (guitar),
Kevin Figueiredo, (drums)