With close to 90,000 people flooding Melbourne for State of Origin it was reaching gridlock as I joined the unending line that was reaching the top of Hosier Lane. The fans were hyped, the wait has been long for a double header of this magnitude and we answered by selling it out as only the Melbourne fans can do.
After a quick stop at the merch desk it was off to the floor to grab a good vantage point, front and centre did me nicely as I waited for Mr Big to kick things off. In splendid fashion they opened with Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song) the crowd went crazy and yes, they did crack out the tools, playing their guitars with the help of electric drills, not your average start to a gig. In saying that it was not your average musicians on stage either, when you have the likes of Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan sharing the stage you feel like you are in the presence of rock royalty. They both treated us to blistering solos over the course of the show and some terrific duelling. Paul had his guitar face on which was mighty expressive, his passion for his instrument leaching out his fingers which every note. Billy slapped his bass as only he can, leaving the fans speechless, it was easy to see why he is a multi award winner.
Alive and Kickin’ had us all singing along Eric Martin worked the crowd like a true professional, his microphone stand complete with a steeling wheel base. Take Cover was dedicated to the late great Pat Torpey who we lost earlier this year. It was a very fitting tribute and I sure he would be looking down at Matt Starr on the kit with a smile on his face. Matt’s drumming was fierce, his heaviness providing the backbone of songs like Everybody Need A Little Trouble of the latest album Defying Gravity. The Cat Stevens cover of Wild World was a terrific addition and Just Take My Heart had all the girls swooning. Addicted To That Rush had the punters bouncing, loving every minute, but I think the band were loving it even more. We have waited a bloody long time to see Mr Big here in Australia and everyone was basking in their rock goodness. Eric was quite playful, wrapping his arms around Billy to take over the bass duties while Billy cracked out the harmonica or a stray hit of a cymbal as he flew past the drum kit. They are a very cohesive bunch and it showed from go to whoa. Green-Tined Sixties Mind another choice track from the album Lean Into It that had everyone bopping, loudly singing along.
Everyone was waiting for To Be With You, it certainly didn’t disappoint as phones were held aloft to capture a memory for later, the crowd loved it taking over the vocals for the better part of the song. Then the finisher and what a song to end it on Colorado Bulldog, the fans revelling in the brilliance that Mr Big delivered, leaving everyone completely satisfied and hopeful that the wait won’t be as long next time.
The magnificent Forum Theatre was literally bulging at the seams, it had swelled to capacity as Extreme fans turned out in force. The twenty-five year wait has been long but it was worth every day of every year to finally have them back in Melbourne. It was a very respectful fan base, all happy for the opportunity to see this awesome foursome live, it was smiles all round as we waited for the lights to drop. Taking their places under the cover of darkness Extreme exploded from the shadows in a wash of lights and colour with the massive opener It(‘s a Monster) followed by Li’l Jack Horny. Everyone was losing their minds as Get The Funk Out rang out, totally in awe of the what was unfolding before us. With an opening trifecta of that stature it was going to be one hell of a night!
What can I say about Gary Cherone, his energy is effervescent, bouncing from the drum riser to cover every millimetre of the stage with ease. He delivered some very cheeky poses to the photographers and I swear he was a Cirque De Soleil performer in a past life. His fluidity was mind blowing, his stamina undying, he is the quintessential front man that any band would kill to call their own. Oh and let’s not forget, he can really belt out a tune, sounding as good today as he did twenty-five years ago.
The hits (and there are many) kept flying out, Rest In Peace, Hip Today and Play With Me next on the list, I am still gobsmacked at how Gary delivered Play With Me live, the lyrics lightning quick and yet he does not miss a beat. Kevin Figueiredo, affectionally known as KFig gave us a sample of his sensational skin hitting partnered with Nuno on his own stand alone drum station, they fed off each other beautifully and treated us to a sensational drumming duet. A few lucky fans managed to snag a memento as Nuno lobbed his drumsticks to the crowd. Shortened versions of Tragic Comic/Whole Hearted saw Nuno hit the stage looking smooth in a suit jacket and hat and KFig move up close to the fans as a small drum kit magically appeared in front of my eyes. The punters singing loud, awash with happiness to have all four members up close and personal.
The needle on my fangirl meter flew to red at warp speed as Nuno Bettencourt took to a stool for Midnight Express. His jokes and banter with the crowd was sensational and in all honestly, I don’t think it was just the girls who were fangirling! The man-love for Nuno was obvious by the crowd that swelled around his microphone, was it for his astonishing guitar skills or his sexy good looks who knows. His shredding skills are exemplary, his guitar an extension of his body, never showy just musical perfection at its finest. Add to this a voice as smooth as honey and Nuno really is the complete package.
Cupid’s Dead was amazing and Am I Ever Gonna Change and Take Us Alive had the crowd rocking. It was return of the stools for More Than Words, Gary and Nuno not required to sing, we knew all the words and we sang them loud and proud. It was a special moment, driven with emotion and passion by all in attendance. Now time to talk Pat Badger, as far as bass players go he is the glue holding this tight knit unit together. Pat is the backbone of Extreme, he is an unbelievably talented musician and has stage presence like no other, not to mention his outstanding vocals. He feeds of the crowd and his enjoyment in performing was evident all night.
Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee saw Nuno’s hands possessed with the spirit of rock and roll, the fans transfixed as he blew as all away with his blistering speed and precision. As He-man Woman Hater followed on Pat quickly walked out with a setlist in hand, pointing out that Nuno was off track, with that He-Man shut down they launched into the final song of the night Decadence Dance. I swear if the roof wasn’t so high we would have lifted it off, the crowd screaming the lyrics back at fever pitch, and amazing song to end what will be known as the gig of the year. As Peace filtered out of the speakers the band took to the pit to thank the fans. Gary walking across the barrier as Pat and KFig happily shook hands and high fived the adoring fans, and as Nuno got to me I must say I did hold on probably a little longer than I should have, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t let pass by. It was such a fitting way to thank the fans for there support and the perfect finish to the night.
The headline read, it’s gonna be BIG and it’s gonna be EXTREME, last night was a show of gargantuan proportions, and blew that headline out of the water. It was bigger than BIG and not just EXTREME but supreme. I speak for everyone who was there last night when I say get the FUNK back here real soon, we will be waiting with open arms.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale