Review By Cassandra Hale
It was a cold Monday night in Melbourne as I joined the masses lined up in the on again off again rain. With Extreme last gracing our shores in 2019 the fans were hyped, the wait has been long for a double header of this magnitude and we answered by selling out night one as only the Melbourne fans can do. So this being the second show but coming first on the Thicker Than Blood tour schedule I was keen to get inside and stake my claim for a night of musical magic.
Living Colour have been strutting their stuff since 1984, but it was my first time seeing them and god damn I was excited. Being a show with two huge acts the Forum was packed early everyone eagerly awaiting the first song of the night. With glasses charged and the floor packed with die hard fans Living Colour burst on to the stage. Opening with a cheeky cover of the famous Rock and Roll by Led Zepplin it was evident they had a huge fan base as the Forum quickly came to life. Singer Corey Glover looked cool as cat shit in his salmon coloured suit and tie finished off with white trainers. His multicoloured dreadlocks and dark shades the perfect addition to complete his look. But looks aside his voice was an absolute showstopper!! Working through Leave it Alone, Middle Man and Funny Vibe the show was off and running at spectacular pace. Guitarist Vernon Reid showed everyone how it was done as he shredded up a storm, his faultless skills not going unnoticed. Living Colour had the fans bobbing as a collective, heads nodding and bodies grooving, it was such a chill vibe and one I loved being a part of.
With their sound covering many genres of music, bass player Doug Wimbish played homage to 50 years of hip hop with a quick-fire medley which included a snippet of The Message which had everyone singing along. Hip Hop aside you could have been lead to believe you were at a full on metal gig as drummer Will Calhoun unleashed on the skins. While he was hard to see, surrounded by a huge array of cymbals you could certainly hear him! Nothing Compares to You was another fabulous cover with Corey once again showing his vocal range then we were treated to hits such as Glamour Boys, Ignorance is Bliss and Times Up. Of course, there is one song that Living Colour is famous for and if you don’t know it, what rock have you been hiding under! Cult of Personality had the crowd up and about and it also saw Corey take to the crowd for a sing. Finishing it out from the stands of The Forum the punters respectfully watched as he jumped up high and gave everyone further back the up-close experience. He then stayed on to finish out the night with the classic Clash cover Should I Stay Or Should I Go singing from the crowd with gusto. Living Colour left me well impressed, and I would certainly be lining up to see them if they make the journey to Australia again.
The magnificent Forum Theatre had swelled as Extreme fans turned out in force. The 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. The back of the stage covered in the latest album’s mascot a fierce gorilla glowing under red lights that graces the cover of SIX. 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 Decadence Dance. Everyone was losing their minds as #REBEL rang out, totally in awe of 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 drumming as he moved 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. Getting yet another song from the new album SIX with OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW which was exquisite followed by the banger Hole Hearted which had everyone singing along.
Cupid’s Dead was amazing and had the crowd rocking out. Then 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 were sensational and, in all honesty, 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. A second stool appeared 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 off the crowd and his enjoyment in performing was evident all night. KFig was a joy to watch, his fluidity on the kit was mesmerising at times. He was born to play drums, a king on his throne, such a talented musician and a master of the skin hitting. We were then rocketed into the stratosphere as BANSHEE was unleashed, this song was next level and a testament to the 13 year wait between albums. Am I Ever Gonna Change and Take Us Alive/That’s All Right were also welcome additions to the setlist.
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. Then the sensational Get The Funk Out, the punters losing their minds singing with fervour as the night was winding up in huge fashion. I would have been happy to end the night there feeling completely satisfied, but I felt there were a few left in the tank. After the boys left the stage, they were quickly drawn back by chanting and feet stomping to deliver not one but two more from the new album SIX. SMALL TOWN BEAUTIFUL which merged into Song For Love and the extraordinary RISE. Holy shit the new stuff sounded amazing, and one would think it was part of the setlist for years, so refined and delivered with perfection. The band waved goodbye and slapped hands across the pit as HERES TO THE LOSERS played out over speakers. Just another taste of SIX to see out the night.
The Thicker Than Blood tour was a show of gargantuan proportions 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. I of course will be back there Sunday night for the sold-out show to do it all again, see you in the pit boys!!