Extreme closed out the first leg of their Pornograffitti Live 25th Anniversary tour with an electrifying performance.

Having sold over ten million albums worldwide, Boston rockers Extreme were one of the most successful rock acts of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Formed by vocalist Gary Cherone in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1985, the band gradually developed a strong local following earning them Outstanding Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Act at the Boston Music Awards in 1986 and 1987.

With an exciting original new sound, Extreme was immediately recognized as innovators in the world of rock & roll. The band described their music as ‘Funky Metal’ in their early days but evolved throughout the 90’s by blending classic rock influences with post-grunge and alternative rock.

A&R director Bryan Huttenhower signed them to A&M Records in 1988 with the band releasing their self-titled debut album in 1989. Musically, the record combined catchy guitar riffs with funky, syncopated timing and fast soloing, which foreshadowed the technical prowess of guitarist Nuno Bettencourt. The album sold around 300,000 units and was sufficient to support a second release.

The band achieved their greatest success with their sophomore album, Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A Funked Up Fairy Tale). Released in 1990, it is their best-selling album to date, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard 200 and certified multi-platinum in the U.S. with more than two million copies sold. The record showcased Bettencourt’s guitar-playing mixing funk, pop, and Glam metal sounds and has been considered the definitive album of the band’s career by music fanatics alike.

Dominated by his blistering funky, syncopated guitar riffs and incendiary, high-speed rock/metal solos, Pornograffitti provided Bettencourt with widespread admiration from rock guitar enthusiasts and continual exposure in leading guitar playing publications.

Two acoustic-based singles from Pornograffitti, “More Than Words,” and “Hole Hearted,” reached the top-5 on the Billboard Hot 100 while two other ‘funked’ out hard rock tracks, “Decadence Dance,” and ”Get The Funk Out,” reached the lower half of Billboard’s rock chart.

Extreme’s popularity is fueled by guitar virtuoso Nuno Bettencourt’s signature style, Gary Cherone’s resonant vocals and socially conscious lyrics, Pat Badger’s rock solid bass, and the hard hitting Kevin Figueiredo on drums. Their unwavering songcraft and diverse musical approaches have earned the band multi-platinum albums with chart topping hits and sold-out tours all over the globe.

January 2015 saw the band releasing a remastered deluxe edition reissue of their classic Pornograffitti album which also includes a full second album of rare mixes and B-sides remastered from the original tapes.

According to the band’s official website; “This was the album where we found ourselves,” says Cherone. “Our first album showed us to be the bastard sons of Queen, Aerosmith and Van Halen. But on the second record, we discovered our style and sound.” Cherone describes the album as “a coming of age tale… about an innocent boy who is growing up and exposed to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” Bettencourt himself doesn’t see the disc as “a concept album,” but admits in the liner notes to the deluxe edition reissue, “I suppose what happened was a little like writing a play, and then trying to make sure the songs fit into the plot.”

Dubbed An Evening with Extreme: 25th Anniversary Pornograffitti Live, Extreme ignited the stage of the FireKeepers Casino with such youthful vigor you thought it was 1990 all over again. The band performed the classic Pornograffitti album in its entirety, plus some fan favorites, to the near capacity crowd of around 2,000.

What some might call a musician’s band; there were several members of at least ten local bands among the crowd, as well as several radio personalities, all of which drove from the Metro-Detroit and surrounding area.

As the lights dimmed, the crowd fell silent to the piano introduction which segued to the thumping metallic beat which transitioned to Bettencourt’s ground shaking opening riff of “Decadence Dance.” The stage lights quickly shot upward, and the overenthusiastic crowd let out an earth-shattering scream as Cherone strutted across the stage singing “Tryin’ so hard to keep up with the Joneses, Runnin’ a rat racin’ won by our noses, always put one foot in front of the other, And dance to the beat of the decadent drummer…” The screams from the audience turned to them singing along with Cherone as they chanted “Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance, Dancin’ to the decadence dance, dance, everybody decadancin’…”

Cherone owned the stage from that first moment he stepped out onto it showing everyone that he is the charismatic born front man that he is. Bettencourt’s guitar-man-ship was dead-on sounding better now than ever before. The band was tight and they sounded fantastic. The energy level of this band put younger bands to shame as they had the energy levels of musicians half their age. Tonight, Battle Creek belonged to Extreme.

The band continued with “Li’l Jack Horny” and “When I’m President” then Badger made his way to the front of the stage and played the opening bass riff to “Get The Funk Out.” Cherone’s face lit up as the audience sang along, “If you don’t like what you see here, Get the funk out, We won’t try to force feed you, Get the funk out…”

Even more impressive was the audience participation to “More Than Words,” which saw the audience taking lead on the vocals for the majority of the whole song. You could tell by the expressions of the band members that they were personally touched by this. This was a genuinely beautiful moment shared between the band and their audience putting everyone in this euphoric trance.

Cherone interacted with the audience mentioning how wonderful everyone sounded. He even mentioned how well it sounded in the venue, stating “it’s as loud as it is long,” pointing toward the back of the venue.

The band raged through “Money (In God We Trust),” “It (‘s a Monster)” and “Pornograffitti” reminding everyone that they can deliver the goods in true hard rock fashion.

They slowed down the groove with Bettencourt taking to the keyboards for the ballad, “When I First Kissed You.” Cherone and Bettencourt recreated that wonderful loungy sounding atmosphere of the studio version of the song perfectly in a live setting. It made you feel like you were sitting in the lounge here at the casino while they lulled you away with their own ‘piano man’ song.

The band brought things back up to speed with “Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)” before Bettencourt began the intricate insanely fast guitar solo intro of “Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee.” You could see the look of awe falling upon the audience as they stared at Bettencourt in total amazement. Bettencourt was spot-on with his guitar solo and didn’t miss a beat. Chills were still running down your spine as the band segued into “He-Man Woman Hater.”

“Song For Love,” was next on the set list followed by the album closer, “Hole Hearted.” Figueiredo came out from behind his drum set and made his way front and center to play a tambourine with a drumstick. It was another favorite among the audience, you could hear them singing along, “There’s a hole in my heart that can only be filled by you, And this hole in my heart, Can’t be filled with the things I do.” The song ended with a deafening applause although sadness seemed to fall among the crowd as “Hole Hearted” came to a close and the lights dimmed down.

The band walked back out to a much deserved standing ovation. Their encore started out with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Good Times Bad Times,” then “Play With Me” off their self-titled debut and “Rest In Peace” off their III Sides To Every Story album. They shook things up a bit with their countrified song “Take Us Alive,” by mixing in a brief interlude from “That’s Alright Mama” by Elvis Presley. They segued into “Am I Ever Gonna Change?” from III Sides To Every Story before Bettencourt let loose with a crazy insane acoustic instrumental before ending the night with “Cupid’s Dead.”

Extreme brought their ‘A Game’ to the FireKeepers Casino and were high energy from beginning to end. The band looked and sounded as good as ever and the audience was in admiration for it. This talented band is back at the top of their game proving that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Our photographer, Thom Seling, was on-hand to catch all the action.

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About The Author

Erik's interest in music began at an early age. In high school, he was the co-host of the underground metal show the Social Mutilation Hour, on 89.5 WAHS, under the name of Neurotik Erik. During this period of his life, he independently promoted shows under the name of Ding Dong Ditch Productions. Erik would rent out local VFW Halls, use space at Oakland Community College Auburn Hills Campus, or simply throw basement parties around the Detroit area. While at college at Ferris State University, he became head of the student run organization, Entertainment Unlimited, and continued to promote shows, but on a larger scale. He also helped start an underground magazine, 'Outpunk', where he interviewed bands and wrote music reviews. Additionally, Erik joined the staff at the Ferris State University Torch and wrote on a larger scale.

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