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March 7, 2024


via LAWeek

Extreme Feelings at the Bellwether: We hadn’t been to the new Bellwether venue, on the site of Prince’s old Glam Slam West club, before this gig but it’s a damn fine establishment. The columns that used to hold up the ceiling have been removed (replaced with a clever bit of architecture on the roof), allowing for an unobstructed view of the stage from all over the floor. There are numerous bars, a patio/smoking area with a glorious view of L.A., and a restaurant, the place has great acoustics.

Making full use of those acoustics on Wednesday evening was the opening band Living Colour. Highlighting just how great a double bill this is, the New York rockers put on one hell of a show. Vocalist Corey Glover leads the way with his smooth, rich, and powerful voice. Prodigious guitarist Vernon Reid dazzled with his typical brilliance. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish kept the whole thing ticking along.

Classics such as “Love Rears its Ugly Head” and “Cult of Personality” sit comfortably alongside a cover of the Prince-written “Nothing Compares 2 U,” “in honor of the former landlord of this place.” Bassist Wimbish used to perform with rap legends the Sugarhill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. In tribute, Living Colour played a medley featuring “White Lines,” “Apache” and “The Message.”

40 years after their formation, Living Colour’s genre-blending sound still kicks some serious ass.

Meanwhile, the last time this writer saw Boston Rockers Extreme was at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival in the UK, in 1994. That day, Extreme has the unenviable task of following thrash metallers Pantera and Sepultura and warming the crowd up for Aerosmith.

This time, Living Colour and Extreme made for the ideal pairing. Both, as mega guitarist Nuno Bettencourt pointed out during the show, have funk rock elements to their sound. Bettencourt and Reid, both have generational guitarists. And in Glover and Extreme’s Gary Cherone (who also fronted Van Halen for a minute or two), both have charismatic frontmen. But the secret weapons are bassists Wimbish (LC) and Pat Badger (Extreme) because of those aforementioned funk elements.

The set at the Bellwether was a proper career-spanner. The songs from the perhaps surprisingly excellent new album Six slotted right in, with “Small Town Beautiful” (blended with “Song for Love”) and “Other Side of the Rainbow” particular highlights.

They played a welcome medley of songs from the self-titled debut that included the underrated “Kid Ego,” and at least one from their other albums. Of course, the set leaned heavily on the classic Pornograffitti, with “Decadence Dance” and “Hole Hearted” in there.

The hits made an appearance — the gentle “More Than Words” had the Bellwether crowd singing like a choir, and “Get the Funk Out” is still a tour de force.

At the end of it all, we exited the venue buzzing about the fact that we’d just seen two bands that, decades after forming, are still capable of magic.