Review & Photography by Jeff Kunze
The “Thicker Than Blood” tour rolled into Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Skyway Theatre was treated to an unforgettable night of music.
Headliners Extreme were in high spirts off the success of their latest release ‘Six.’ It’s their first offering in fifteen years and has earned high praise amongst longtime fans of the band. Opening the night was Living Colour.
Like Extreme, they broke into the scene in the 80’s and offered much more than the template of music that was being mass produced by record labels at the time. It was a perfect pairing and people packed the venue to rock out with these bands.
Living Colour broke through with their album ‘Vivid’ which was released in 1988. Led by the powerful vocal strength of Corey Glover and guitar shedder Vernon Reid, they created their own special niche of music that cut through radio and MTV.
Decades later the duo is still delivering the goods on stage and celebrating a brilliant catalog of music. Drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Doug Wimbish complete an equation of the band that plays with a skill and technique few bands could ever reach.
Opening up with “Leave It Alone” it was clear how excited the crowed was to see them. Glover was right on point as he nailed each song with his power, songs like “Middle Man,” “Ignorance Is Bliss,” and “Type” sounded brilliant. It’s hard to ignore the tremendous crunch coming from Reid’s guitar.
Whether entrenched in an addictive riff or ripping through a solo, it was difficult to take your eyes of him. There are so many guitar hero’s that have graced successful hard rock and metal bands and Reid should be in every conversation about who the best players are.
The rhythm section laid down such a foundation that you couldn’t help but feel the groove go through your body. It was a really good set which wound down with the song that broke them, “Cult of Personality,” with Glover standing on the barricade between the stage and crowd singing the song together. Before saying good-bye, they covered “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.
From the minute Extreme kicked into the new cut “#Rebel,” they had the crowd completely locked into the show. The Band hailing from Boston, Massachusetts struck gold back in 1990 with the album ‘Pornograffitti’ and by accounts, has done it again with their latest album ‘Six.’ The catalyst has always been the brilliance of their guitar shredding genius, Nuno Bettencourt.
He was as exciting to watch as he was decades ago and there were so many moments where I was almost frozen in time watching some of his solos. Ripping through hard chargers like “Decadence Dance,” “It (‘s a Monster),” and “Banshee” kept the Skyway Theatre rocking. Despite Nuno being the face of the band, he is far from the only driving aspect of the unit.
Vocalist Gary Cherone has always provided a strong voice to play off the soaring guitar. He was once again in fine form vocally while enticing the crowd to continue to give everything they had back to the band. The unsung hero may be bassist Pat Badger as he brings so much to the band. Not only does he provide that bottom end of the sound, he also provides a brilliant vocal ability and it’s such a part of the bands signature sound.
It is truly magical when Nuno, Gary and Pat come together vocally and let loose those three-part harmonies. It has always been a critical element of Extreme and one of the factors that ties the band back to Queen. Kevin Figueiredo took over drum duties from Paul Geary back in 2007 and brings a sense of intensity behind the kit.
The band has not skipped a beat since his arrival and the quartet sounded as good as they ever have as they blasted through a twenty-song set.
You can’t have a set without the massive hits “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted” and as usual they were some of the biggest sing-along songs of the set.
My highlights included the medley of the first record with “Teachers Pet,” “Flesh ‘n’ Blood,” “Wind Me Up” and “Kid Ego” being touched on and then the full song of “Play with Me” with that unbelievable solo. The song I was most excited to hear and see was “Am I Ever Gonna Change,” that song contains everything Extreme is about, heavy, melodic, delicate and aggressive.
Everything is thrown into that song and it was amazing to hear. When Nuno kicked out “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” the crowd went nuts and then things went to another level with “Get the Funk Out.” The first track off the new album brought the house down.
“Rise” is straight-up rocker that hits with even a bigger force live. You would have thought the song was another classic tune from thirty years ago by the way the crowd reacted to it. The solo is spectacular and was a moment so many people were waiting to see.
It was a testament to how loyal the fanbase is and how well the new album has been received.
Extreme really pulled out all the stops on the show and this tour and we can only hope it’s not another fifteen years before the next album and tour.