Widely pigeonholed for their syrupy, Everly Brothers-esque hit “More Than Words,” Extreme has always been a band that’s defied expectations. Although the New England-bred funk rock act’s career was launched with their self-titled debut at the tail-end of the 80s, it wasn’t until their 1990 sophomore release, Pornograffitti, lit up the charts that Extreme became a bonafide hard rock powerhouse, sharing Billboard space with similar pop acts of the era.
While the popular ballad was certainly the impetus for the majority of album sales, those who purchased the record expecting a cornucopia of love songs were instead treated to an onslaught of lusty guitars, pulsating bass, crushing drums, and melodic muscular vocals, eventually resulting in double platinum status in the U.S.
The group’s follow-up effort, III Sides To Every Story, switched gears tonally, replacing the bombast of its predecessor’s “Get The Funk Out” and “Li’l Jack Horny” with the more introspective “Am I Ever Gonna Change” and “Stop The World.” And despite its progressive maturation and being considered by both fans and critics to be one of the outfit’s finest creations, the 1992 concept album failed to match the commercial success of Pornograffitti. Subsequent studio offerings in the years since have been scarce, an unfortunate fact for such a talented band who never quite fit the mold of the hair metal genre they were identified with.
Closer to Faith No More than Faster Pussycat and more King’s X than Kix, Extreme barreled into Long Island, N.Y.’s spacious Paramount on August 22 and delivered an electric live experience that the underrated faction has garnered a well-deserved reputation for throughout their 30 years of touring.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the setlist consisted of selections from the two aforementioned records. Opener “It (’s A Monster)” served as the perfect metaphor to get the evening started, as all four members played their parts with monstrous ferocity.
Sole guitarist Nuno Bettencourt can do it all, from sizzling leads to frenetic solos and his onstage chemistry with charismatic front man Gary Cherone was seamless as they dove into the still-topical “Hip Today” off of 1995’s criminally underappreciated Waiting For The Punchline before serving up a poignant rendition of fan favorite “Hole Hearted.”
Cherone, who had a brief, ill-fated, post-Sammy Hagar stint as lead singer of Van Halen almost a quarter of a century ago, is clearly where he belongs. He crooned the catalogue with ease, shining on “Rest In Peace,” arguably the band’s finest composition, as well as the deliciously flamboyant “Decadence Dance.”
Though the duo act as primary songwriters and are the most recognizable components of the group, original bassist Pat Badger is equally as essential to the sonic qualities of the band. His harmonious backing vocals on the acoustic masterpiece “Tragic Comic” were crucial while his crunching bass line on the blistering “Warheads” was difficult to overlook.
Rounding out the quartet was relative “new guy” Kevin ‘kFigg’ Figueiredo behind the drums, a part of the act for the last 12 years. Figueiredo swiftly pounded the skins with abandon on the manic “Take Us Alive,” a standout cut from 2008’s Saudades de Rock, the unit’s last release, and also proved to be a highlight of the group’s performance of the all-instrumental “Midnight Express.”
A triumphantly rousing interpretation of the Queen classic “We Are The Champions” couldn’t have been a more appropriate encore – Extreme came, Extreme saw, and Extreme conquered.
- It (‘s A Monster)
- Li’l Jack Horny
- Get The Funk Out
- Rest In Peace
- Stop The World
- Hip Today
- Play With Me
- Tragic Comic
- Hole Hearted
- Midnight Express
- Cupid’s Dead
- Am I Ever Gonna Change
- Take Us Alive
- Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee/He-Man Woman Hater
- Decadence Dance
- More Than Words
- We Are The Champions
Click here for Extreme’s tour dates.