Sometimes there is nothing better than being at the first night of a tour. Even better is getting to attend said night with Mini-Amps, who has very quickly become a concert pro. Be it an outdoor ampitheater or an inside venue, this kid just loves seeing bands live. So on this night I took him to The Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA to see the one, the only, the incomparable EXTREME. Kicking off their 2019 run in a place that I really love, I knew this was gonna be a special night. Mini-Amps had his special headphones on as we took our seats at the back of the place. He has autism, as many of you know, and I didn’t want anything to be too overwhelming for him up near the front. Regardless, he had a ball!
The house lights went down and EXTREME launched into opener “It (’s a Monster) from 1990’s Extreme II: Pornograffitti, easily one of their best albums. Two more killer cuts from this one followed in “Li’l Jack Horny” and “Get the Funk Out”, the latter of which would inspire quite the sing-along with the crowd. Mini-Amps was doing his famous dance and smiling away; he also kept looking over at his Dad (yours truly, The Maestro) rocking out and his eyes were saying, “Dad! I never see you like this!!” You must understand that this has been one of my favorite bands since 1989, and this was the seventh time I was seeing them, so I went a little nuts. Gary Cherone was in top shape, vocally as well as his physique. I almost hate him.
Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt is obviously a God among men, and song after song showed why. “Rest In Peace” from III Sides to Every Story led the way for a pair from the debut with “Kid Ego” and one of my all-time favorite tracks “Play With Me.” I still get all pumped up when the verse hits, “Duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!” Plus Pat Badger (bass) and Kevin Figueiredo (drums) ripped it up on this one as Nuno unleashed fire. A change of pace was next with “Tragic Comic” and smash hit “Hole Hearted” as the band flexed their acoustic muscles. Speaking of, “Midnight Express” is an instrumental, also on the acoustic guitar, that if you’ve never seen live, prepare for a jaw dropper. This is Nuno’s time to shine, and shine he does.
“Cupid’s Dead”, also from III Sides is always a show highlight because it only illustrates just how tight this band is from top to bottom. And Badger belts out the “Extra! Extra!” part which I love. It’s just not an EXTREME show without this one being in the set as far as I’m concerned. “Am I Ever Gonna Change?” from the same disc is another powerful tune that absolutely slays live. I wasn’t expecting to hear “Take Us Alive” from 2008’s Saudades de Rock but that was a pleasant surprise, especially when they worked in Elvis’ “That’s All Right” on the anniversary of his passing. Is there nothing Gary Cherone can’t sing???
By the way, “Stop the World” sounded awesome, as did “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” and main set closer “Decadence Dance.” This one is Top Five all-time for me and live that main riff is even crunchier. Mini-Amps really enjoyed this one, too. For the encore we were treated to an interactive version of “More Than Words.” Calm down, I’ll explain. Gary was giving we the people a chance to sing part of the verses. I always love this since I am a singer, and this is one of my favorites to sing. I actually met one of my close friends through this tune at one of their shows in 2009. Ahhhhhh, memories…
As soon as that was done, Cherone grabbed a mic on a stand and shouted, “You didn’t think this was the end, didja?!?” and the boys tore into “Warheads.” Man alive, I was all hyped up hearing this one, and it’s been in my head ever since the show. But we weren’t done yet. A majestic, beautiful, guitar-driven cover of “We Are the Champions” was the evening’s final selection. This was perfect, because I have long referred to EXTREME as the Metal equivalent of QUEEN, especially since no two albums sound anything alike, just like Freddie Mercury and Co. Talk about a perfect ending? Well, this was it. And a fitting tribute to him.
I can’t lie, when the house lights came on I was sad. I had such a great time over the course of EXTREME’S set, and Mini-Amps was rockin’ and rollin’ the whole time. To be honest they could have played another two hours and I still would have wanted more. These guys are one of THE best live bands you will ever see and hear, so you need to get off yer ass, buy a ticket, and catch the power and fury of an EXTREME show, wherever that may be. Gary, Nuno, Pat, and Kevin hit on all fronts, and you will leave exhausted, like I did.
LIVE IMAGES: PRICE STEVENSON IV
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO