[LIVE REVIEW] Extreme w/ Mr. Big @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 03/06/2018

I was thankful for arriving at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre when I did. Not five minutes after my arrival, hoards of fans took their place in line, which very quickly grew, reaching up the street and around the corner. The long line of waiting fans only heightened everyone’s excitement. I had to giggle when I overheard a couple of passers-by conversation, “Extreme & Mr Big? Never heard of them, it’s probably that shit dance music”. Boy, do they need educating! Pretty soon we were all about to witness a paramount double header with two prodigious guitar virtuoso’s between them.

At 7pm on the dot, the doors to the Enmore were flung open and the crowd of fans made their way inside, to take their positions. Securing my favourite spot on the barrier (Hey, I’m short. I need to ensure a good view, to produce a decent review.. Or so I lead everyone to believe. Perhaps I’m just a big fan girl and have no shame in my greed) I quickly threw a cheesy grin to Security, who ever so kindly took a photo of each set list for me. Thanks guys!

Time always seems to stand still when waiting for an amazing performance and tonight was no different. 45 minutes felt like 2 hours, but a wait that was worth every second.

A brief moment of darkened silence, before Mr Big erupted on to the stage. Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song) saw everyone moving and singing along. What a way to open a show.

Eric Martins vocals were unchanged and powerful, even at 57 years old. He is still spot on with every single note and can I just say, the man, just like his voice, has not aged a day. I want to know your secrets, Eric.

For many, we re-lived our teenage years, with hits such as Just Take My Heart,  To Be With You, Green-Tinted Sixties Mind, Colorado Bulldog and even Cat Stevens classic Wild World.

Open Your Eyes and Everybody Needs a Little Trouble from their latest album Defying Gravity were also played and enjoyed by the crowd.

Paul Gilbert was of course, an absolute whiz on his Ibanez, with his trademark shredding. I expected nothing less than mind-blowing from the legend. The man doesn’t need to talk, when his fingers can do it for him. My expectations were met and exceeded, especially during his solo. Wow! I found myself saying that a lot throughout the night.

Matt Starr did a smashing job, sitting in Pat Torpeys throne, who sadly passed away earlier this year due to complications with Parkinson’s disease.

Eric, introducing Matt as their “brother in arms”, while making certain to keep Torpey’s memory alive through his music. Eric dedicating Take Cover to him. Devoted Torpey fans, yelling out “Rest in Peace” and “We love you Torpey“. I felt priveleged to be a part of that moment.

Matt Starr slotting in nicely, was amazing to watch. Not only for his skillful technique, but his sensational facial expressions, while playing.

I was fortunate enough to be standing right in front of Billy Sheehan, I was absolutely mesmerised by the man. I thought I had seen some talented bass players, but this man was unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. While I tried to keep my focus shared on all members of the band, Billy kept stealing it and that’s not a bad thing at all. Witnessing a duel between Sheehan and Gilbert in which they both used a drill to strum their strings, was an absolute treat and highlight. I kept wondering if Extreme would match the show that Mr Big gave us, they left big boots to fill.

After a brief change over, I was about to find out.

Through the darkness, Extreme made their way on to the stage. I watched them in the shadows, waiting. My heart was pounding, I was actually nervous.

An explosion of lights and it was all happening. I didn’t know where to look first, there was so much energy on one stage. Gary Cherone bouncing around and contorting across the stage, he was so animated. Nuno Bettencourt and Pat Badger moving from front of stage to the sides of Kevin Figueiredo’s kit, giving us a show of their talents.

Playing three tracks, back to back from Extreme II: PornograffittiIt(‘s a Monster), Li’l Jack Horny and Get The Funk Out, I couldn’t believe that after all these years, they still have so much stamina. They still have IT!

It’s been a long time between shows, 25 years to be precise. Nuno and Gary were apologetic, promising they would come back again. Nuno announcing that he had family in the crowd, I think everyone in the room was family.

Kevin Figueiredo was unrelenting on drums,  he didn’t miss a beat. If he did, no-one noticed. While everyone was anticipating Nuno’s solo in Play With Me, he surprised us all when he jumped on percussions and duelled it out with Kevin. Nothing short of amazing. The brief cable fault during Nuno’s solo, in Play With Me (which he did eventually play) wasn’t a drama. Nuno laughing it off, before restarting. There was such a great vibe in the room, I’m sure everyone felt it.

I was absolutely enthralled for the entire duration of the set. Gary’s resonant vocals were impeccable. Any and every problem that may have been going on outside of the venue, melted away. For just one night, we were taken away from reality and damn it felt good.

The band fed off the crowd, as the crowd fed from the band. Nuno recommending, we all meet up outside after the show, to create our own band. “What a band it would be”.

Nuno, an absolute mastermind on guitar, played his signature Washburn N4-Vintage Electric Guitar, while strutting around the stage and lending his very awesome backing vocals. It was hard to keep my eyes off him.

Pat Badger moved around the stage with a precise amount of attitude, while working his bass, throwing the occasional pick out to fans. Thanks to that lovely security guard, that I befriended earlier, I am also a proud owner of one of Pat’s picks. It pays to be nice to Security!

The hits were belted out, Hole Hearted, Midnight Express, Cupid’s Dead including an intro from the Soul Classic by Sam Cooke  – Cupid.

Nuno and Gary took a seat front of stage to play the biggest hit of their career, the well-loved ballad More Than Words. Gary and Nuno’s harmonising has always been evoking, that hasn’t changed. Gary motioning for the crowd to sing the first verse. What a moment, the crowd almost surpassing the volume of Gary and Nuno. A smile was on everyone’s face.

The stage now empty, with the exception of Nuno, who asked in jest, “Where’d everyone go, are we breaking up again? I don’t need those guys anyway, I do what I want”. The crowd roared with laughter.

Nuno in the spotlight, entertained us with Flight of The Wounded Bumblebee, his fingering is immaculate, just WOW! Moving in to He-Man Woman Hater, however it was cut short, due to time constraints. Closing the show for the evening, was Decadence Dance.

Extreme did the obligatory thank you, before jumping down from the stage and walking along the barrier, shaking hands and hi-fiving the crowd. I swear, I’m never washing my hand again! I wished the night didn’t have to end, but as the saying goes “all good things must come to an end”.

I hope we don’t have to wait another 25 years before they return.

Review Contributed by Trudy Johnson

Gallery by Carleigh Ingram