Whilst many brace themselves for either the Newcastle United football match or the release of the new Star Wars movie, the packed out crowd at the O2 Academy Newcastle proves that the return of US rockers Extreme is, in fact, the hottest ticket in town tonight.
Back in the early 90’s Extreme and touring counterparts the Dan Reed Network along with bands like Living Colour, Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers forged the way during somewhat of a funk rock renaissance.
Tonight’s rare date on Tyneside marks Extreme’s third show in the region since 1992, with their last visit being 9 years ago at the Newcastle City Hall. Subsequently, anticipation is high for the group’s return.
A full house is in attendance as special guests the Dan Reed Network take to the stage early in the evening. Reed has been a regular visitor to the North East of England over the years, with both full band and solo shows at the nearby Cluny earlier this year.
The Dan Reed Network has always been one of Extreme lead guitarist Nuno Bettencourt’s favourite bands, and by his own admittance, he is honoured to have the group on tour with them this time around. Nuno watches on from the wings as The Network hit the stage.
Opening with “Resurrect” Reed and company take the Geordie faithful through The Network’s career spanning in excess of 30 years. All of the hits are there including crowd pleasers like “Ritual”, “Get To You” and “Baby Now I”. The latter of which is, in turn, segued into a medley of “Enter Sandman” and “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.
The band slow things down a bit with old favourite “Rainbow Child” and of course there is room for the likes of “Champion” from the group’s latest offering Fight Another Day. However, what renders the O2 Academy Newcastle speechless is the group’s acapella rendition of “Long Way To Go” at the end of their set, with all five members of the band up front and centre.
Without a new studio album since 2008, this evening’s Extreme show is very much a dynamic greatest hits set. As the hard-rocking quartet hit the stage they set the tone for the night ahead with a trio of some of their biggest numbers from their seminal album Pornograffiti II including “It’s A Monster”, “Li’l Jack Horny” and their emphatic hit single “Get The Funk Out”.
Extreme’s performance this evening is timeless, both from the sense that these tracks still sound as fresh as they did back in 1992 and likewise the band themselves don’t appear to have aged at all since their heyday.
Extreme’s charismatic frontman Gary Cherone prowls the edge of the stage, engaging the audience, reaching out to the fans with his microphone stand enticing the O2 Academy choir to sing back, which they do in turn at the tops of their voices all night long.
Nuno Bettencourt proves exactly why many regard him as one of best guitarists on the planet. Grasping his trusty Washburn he continuously lights up the stage with his blistering fretwork particularly during the likes of “Play With Me” and “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee”.
Bettencourt is no one trick pony; he also gives a display of acoustic guitar mastery during his solo number “Midnight Express” as well as joining in on percussion during Kevin Figueiredo’s hard-hitting drum solo.
It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 25th anniversary of III Sides to Every Story. Tonight the band chose to include several tracks from the record including a magnificent rendition of “Am I Ever Gonna Change”, an acoustic version of “Tragic Comic” and “Rest In Peace” to name but a few.
Extreme bring their sensational main set to a close with the frantic “Decadence Dance” leaving the stage to feverish cheers and the stomping of feet, with the Newcastle audience still hungry for more.
An encore of the classic acoustic ballad “More Than Words”, a rare performance of “Peacemaker Die” and Extreme’s victorious take of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” closes out the evening. As the band exit the stage, they make their way along the security fence giving hugs and handshakes to their loyal fans, which adds somewhat of a personal touch to the evening.
Tonight’s Newcastle crowd are treated to what is undoubtedly one of the funkiest touring packages to hit both Tyneside and the UK this year. After almost 30 years in the game, Extreme are still going strong. With a packed out room full to the rafters of adoring fans who each, in turn, lap up every minute of the Boston four piece’s incredible set, you have to ask yourself the question – who said that rock music is dead?
Event Date: 13-Dec-2017