Spec. Guests: Living Colour
House Of Blues – Anaheim, CA
Tuesday, August 24th, 2023
Review and Pictures: Marie Randall
In support of their sixth album aptly titled, “SIX” (their first in 15 years) Boston rockers Extreme brought their Thicker Than Blood US tour to a sold out House of Blues in Anaheim on August 24th.
If that weren’t incredible enough, they brought with them iconic rockers Living Colour for a dream double bill guaranteed to make guitar enthusiasts’ heads explode. Fans lined up early, some from Texas and even Mexico. They had a big group of people that were participating in the VIP experience. Many fans in line were sporting various Van Halen t-shirts, which I think possibly outnumbered Extreme tees.
Living Colour came out ready to rock at 8:00 with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll“. The band members may be a bit older, but they’re ferocious as ever and on the road in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Vivid.
Corey Glover’s voice is still epic and Vernon Reid is still a guitar god. The pairing of Extreme and Living Colour, two guitar-driven MTV era bands begs the question: How cool would it have been to see Vernon Reid and Nuno Bettencourt on stage together?
Midway through their set they played a cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” as a tribute to Prince and Sinead O’Connor.
A highlight of their set was when Corey Glover reminded the audience that it was the 50th anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop and that their bassist, Doug Wimbish, was there at the beginning having played on many of the early and seminal hip hop songs. With that, Wimbish led the band through a medley of old school hip hop songs including Melle Mel’s White Lines (Don’t Do It), Apache (Jump On It) by Sugarhill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s The Message.
The band ended their too-short set with their anthem “Cult of Personality” (I can still visualize the high tops, bike shorts, and day glo colors of the video) and a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” at which point Glover jumped into the audience.
At 9:30 it was time for Extreme. In this climate of overpriced concerts, Extreme gives their audience more bang for the buck, clocking in at 2 hours. I hadn’t seen the band since 2015 at Riki Rachtman’s Cathouse Live at Irvine Meadows.
Lead singer Gary Cherone blasted on stage, lean and energetic wearing dark glasses with one lens crossed out with a white X. His movements were sometimes reminiscent of Freddie Mercury and at other times Mick Jagger. Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt introduced himself by pushing his guitar into a wall of amps, and bassist Pat Badger swaggered out in all black and a cowboy hat.
The band opened with “It (‘s A Monster)” against a video backdrop of the Pornograffitti neon cityscape. I was immediately impressed by the 3 part vocals of Gary, Nuno, and Pat and it was cool to see all three of them share the microphone. The band mixed up their set list with rockers and acoustic songs from their catalog with Gary transitioning effortlessly from one to the other. The setlist drew mostly from Pornograffitti and only one song, “Take Us Alive” ( w/ That’s Alright Mama) from Saudades de Rock.
For the song “Tragic Comic“, drummer Kevin Figueiredo came out from behind his main kit to a smaller one set up at the front of the stage for a few songs including a sing-along for “Hole Hearted“.
When they played new song, “Hurricane” Nuno sat down, acoustic in hand and tearfully spoke of a friend that had recently passed away. This then led into the band’s 1990 hit “More Than Words” and another sing-along. Nuno suggested the audience should form a band after the show, argue, break up and get back together.
Nuno then went into blistering shred mode with “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee“, which left all the guitar heads in the crowd slack jawed. Throughout the evening Nuno paid tribute to Edward Van Halen, sprinkling EVH riffs here and there. At one point while perched on top of his amps, he played the intro to “Women In Love” off Van Halen II, ending it by pointing skyward.
After an encore of “Small Town Beautiful” from SIX and Pornograffitti’s “Song For Love“, the band asked the audience to keep the energy going for the video shoot for their new song “Thicker Than Blood“. They ran through the song twice and then ended the evening. Throughout the show, Nuno made it clear how much the band appreciated their fans sticking with them.
Extreme is a band that’s weathered the ups and downs and made it to the other side as a band of brothers. Hopefully it won’t be another 15 years for another new Extreme album.