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February 8, 2024



One of 2023’s biggest surprises was having Boston-area rockers, EXTREME drop a defining new album. “EXTREME releases a new album every thirty-one years”, quipped Nuno Bettencourt to a packed audience at MGM Center Stage in Northfield, Ohio. The appropriately named, Six was my choice for album of the year and it was the viral Nuno guitar solo from the single, “Rise” that sent folks into a tizzy. Any fan of the band can tell you that it is typical of the guitar virtuoso to rip off a percussive, mind-numbing solo at breakneck speed while still retaining all of the raw emotion and feel. But in the era of trendiness, social media, and hashtags, a band that had once topped the charts in 1991, was now trending because of new music over three decades later. A feat that is not easily accomplished. So with new material, new audiences, and maybe a new sense of purpose, or at least a stronger one, EXTREME plotted a world tour and I was lucky enough to catch a gig.

Like a vintage wine to a thick steak, LIVING COLOUR paired well as an opening act. The grooves and funkiness were enough to send the people rushing to their seats. Vocalist Corey Glover still delivers the goods. He may not act quite as frantic on stage, but his pipes have not aged a day over the decades. His unmistakable voice rang out between songs; “You feel good?” he asked to a resounding roar. The PRINCE cover, “Nothing Compares 2 U” was well received, as was the medley of SUGAR HILL GANG and GRANDMASTER FLASH songs that were originally recorded with bassist Doug Wimbish as a sessions artist. Vernon Reid‘s innovative guitar sound shined throughout the compact set, but it was the closing song, “Cult of Personality” that topped it all.

• “Middle Man
• “Leave It Alone
• “Ignorance Is Bliss
• “Nothing Compares 2 U” (Prince cover)
• “Time’s Up
• “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)“/”Apache“/”The Message
• “Glamour Boys
• “Love Rears Its Ugly Head
• “Type
• “Cult of Personality

Facing the backline amps with a fist raised and feedback ringing out, Nuno Bettencourt was first to the stage before drummer Kevin Figueiredo played the opening fill to “It (‘s a Monster)“. And just like that, we were off. It was a fitting opener for a “monstrous” set of nearly two solid hours of hits, jams, ballads, and solos. Many “nostalgic” acts will lean heavily, if not exclusively, on back catalogs of material, but this was not the case with EXTREME. No anniversaries or milestones would be celebrated. This was a tour in support of a new album full of new material and Six was represented well throughout the set.

Before tearing through a medley from the group’s self-titled first album, Nuno mentioned that the band’s second offering, Pornograffiti, is often regarded as the first EXTREME record, which is unfortunate because the first album is an absolute banger. I really would have enjoyed hearing “Teacher’s Pet” and “Kid Ego” in their entirety instead of only moments of each in a medley. But we did get to enjoy the full version of “Play With Me“, so beggars can’t be choosers I suppose. If anything, the medley freed up more time to explore the new songs.

Vocalist Gary Cherone brings just enough of an oddity to his frontman antics; often contorting himself into uncomfortable-looking positions and sauntering around the stage, sharing vocal duties and many times, the same microphone with Nuno as well as bassist, Pat Badger. Vocal harmonies are a big part of EXTREME and they do it so well in the live setting. The influence of QUEEN on the quartet is obvious. But if it wasn’t apparent enough, EXTREME performed both “Fat Bottom Girls” and “We Will Rock You” as segues within their set. Just when things would really rev up, EXTREME would bust out the bar stools and acoustic guitar. It was calculated and flowed perfectly. Naturally, the former Billboard chart-topper, “More Than Words” went over well. Gary and Nuno’s vocals were drowned out by the audience singing along at several points.

It is so difficult to really encapsulate the many highlights into a short article, but I will leave you with this: EXTREME will never be the cookie-cutter live act, wrapped in cellophane, propped up, and sterile. They will never be the band that punches in and out every night like clockwork; just feeding audiences the same stale performance full of smoke and mirrors. EXTREME is dynamic, organic, and full of emotion. Every performance is unique and memorable. There are few things that can compete with watching four musicians, that are still at the top of their game, pouring their hearts out on stage and sharing their talents with the world.

EXTREME continues to tour throughout 2024 all over the planet – do not miss it.

• “It (‘s a Monster)
• “Decadence Dance
• “Rest in Peace
• “Hip Today
• “Teacher’s Pet”/”Flesh ‘n’ Blood”/”Wind Me Up”/”Kid Ego
• “Play With Me
• “Hole Hearted
• “Cupid’s Dead
• “Am I Ever Gonna Change
• “Midnight Express
• “More Than Words
• “Take Us Alive”/”That’s All Right
• “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee
• “Get the Funk Out

• “RISE”