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LIVE: EXTREME with LIVING COLOUR, Perth – 6 September 2023

| 7 September 2023 | 1 Reply

LIVE: EXTREME with LIVING COLOUR, Perth – 6 September 2023
Regal Theatre, Subiaco, Perth
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Damien Crocker


The stately art deco treasure that is The Regal Theatre in stately Subiaco is an odd choice for this raucous double act – not that Living Colour or Extreme are mosh pit heavy, or break-shit-punks, but because this is music to shake your head, stomp your hands and clap your feet to. It’s one of the hottest hard rock tickets to hit our sleepy big town all year.

Living Colour frontman Corey Glover agrees. “This is not a sitting down show – who said you could sit down?” he teases early, after the band tear through Led Zeppelin’s Rock n’ Roll, and their own Leave It Alone and Ignorance Is Bliss.

The venue is cram packed, and even from up in the gods the energy is palpable: when Living Colour hit the stage, they hit it hard: Vernon Reid’s guitar work still as revolutionary as ever; drummer Will Calhoun & bassist Doug Wimbish still locked together like Siamese rhythm twins; Glover’s vocals still rich and honeyed and textured and smoother than dudes thirty years younger.

Funny Vibe is next, then Ausländer, the latter full of swirling, shimmying, circular jazz riffs.

Then Glover turns his attention back to those still seated: “It has come to my attention there are people still sitting down. I’m coming to you…” and he does – striding purposefully into the crowd to cajole someone to reluctantly get to their feet.

His reasoning he soon explains, is one of respect because the next song is dedicated “to one of our fallen heroes.” It’s Nothing Compares 2 U, in tribute to the recently passed Sinead O’Connor, and it’s simply beautiful and emotional. In their 2017 visit the band played the night after the news of Chris Cornell’s death, and they delivered a similarly emotional Blow Up The Outside World.

Open Letter (To A Landlord) starts with some vocal gymnastics on the theme – Glover’s voice so powerful and as striking as the multi-coloured dreadlocks hanging most of the way down his back. If one may have a tiny gripe, as enjoyable as these improvs are, they eat up time that might be better filled with any of the great songs they couldn’t squeeze into the set. Thematically though, song is just as poignant now as it was upon release in 1988, and very relevant here in the midst of Perth’s rental crisis, as elsewhere.

Smash hit Love Rears Its Ugly Head and the funky, jazzy pop of Glamour Boys win more fans over, Reid still playing like a man possessed, every bit as radical an innovator as Tom Morello. Glover introduces Wimbish – “he was there on the ground floor” – to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop with a medley of White Lines (Don’t Do It) by Melle Mel, Apache by The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s The Message.

The crowd is lively, and calls for a favourite song are dealt with perfunctorily by Glover: “Hold your fucking horses – it’s not like we’re not gonna play that song!”

Type is next, before Cult Of Personality – “this is one some of us have been waiting for” Glover says by way of introduction, looking pointedly at the aforementioned heckler – and the singer wanders through the crowd, finishing their stunning but all-too-short set with a few rounds of What’s Your Favourite Colour, the rest of the band at front of stage sans instruments.

It’s a close race for favourites between these two iconic bands, but it seems the anticipation for Extreme is slightly more heightened as Nuno Bettencourt (who has his own special connection with our fair town) kicks off proceedings by eking out a sustained peal of feedback from his Marshall stack, before the band launch into It (‘s A Monster) and Decadence Dance from second album, 1990’s Pornograffitti.

Bettencourt – who has been Rihanna’s touring guitarist and band leader since 2009 – is still dressed like it’s 1992, all Portuguese/Native American chic and looking like he’s barely aged a moment since then (apart from a knee brace following a basketball injury [of all things] on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise out of Florida in May); dapper frontman Gary Cherone sports sunglasses and a bright red shirt and casual black three piece suit (no tie); cowboy hatted bassist Pat Badger is clad in leather pants; while drummer Kevin ‘K-Figg’ Figueiredo has dressed down in a Hawaiian-style shirt.

We’ve a bunch of American friends who have raved about the band’s shows on their side of the pond in recent months, and it’s instantly obvious why. The band – like their opening act – are almost unnaturally tight as a Gordian knot, and Bettencourt’s virtuoso playing is jaw-droppingly special.

#Rebel from latest album Six is infectious, and as the guitarist – ‘the Portuguese Prince’ according to Cherone – says a short while later, “this sort of thing doesn’t happen to guys in their ‘40s and ‘50s!” Well, Nuno, it does when you make an album that damn good.

Rest In Peace and Hip Today follow, Cherone adopting the Swami pose cross-legged on the floor during the former, before a snippet of We Will Rock You (remember, the band were front and centre at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in ’92) introduces Play With Me from their 1989 debut album – complete with tongue-twistingly fast lyrics – which you may recall from the soundtrack of the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure movie.

There’s no Joan of Arc running an aerobics class or Atilla The Hun trashing a sports store tonight, but an acoustic segment was always inevitable, and in a surprise move the band’s first decamp to front of stage – Figueiredo with a mini-kit – is for a short set which is more intimate than acoustic.

Recent single Other Side Of The Rainbow is a new favourite, and its catchy, summery, jangly vibe sits well next to one of their biggest hits, Hole Hearted. Forget Cherone – the crowd’s vocals were amazing, practically everyone singing and clapping enthusiastically, prompting even the band to declare how impressed they are.

With K-Figg back behind the big boy kit there’s a snippet of James Brown’s Get Up (Like A Sex Machine) to lead us into Cupid’s Dead, including a joint bass and guitar solo which shows that neo-classical virtuoso Bettencourt may be, Badger is far from a slouch on his four string, and the double whammy of their lightning fast runs up and down the necks of their instruments and their interplay brings to mind similar musical chemistry between Joe Satriani and Stu Hamm in the past.

Am I Ever Gonna Change is the closest thing to filler in the set, before Nuno sits down (“this is my favourite part of the show… once you hit 55 sitting down is like having an orgasm”) and cue acoustic guitar solo, and his blur of fingers and pristine notes and intertwined melodies is like a magical spell by a modern-day musical sorcerer.

Naturally, the acoustic segment features More Than Words, and again the crowd participation nearly raises the roof – more than a few punters hamming it up a la Jack Black & Jimmy Fallon’s famous scene-for-scene video remake of the track.

Banshee turns the volume back up after an acapella intro of the chorus from Fat Bottomed Girls, then Bettencourt declares “it’s time for a good old West Australian hoedown” and the band deliver a jaunty country rock honk in the form of Take Us Alive, originally from 2008’s Saudades de Rock LP. We’ve no idea how this is “a West Australian hoedown” but it was a tip of the hat to The Rolling Stone’s musical diversity, with Cherone vamping as Elvis on a snippet of That’s Alright Mama a nice touch.

Bettencourt’s soloing features in every song, of course, but his main solo spot takes the form of a take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s piano piece Flight Of The Bumblebee, transposed for guitar. It’s staggeringly fast and preternaturally amazing.

Get The Funk Out closes out the main set, the long-legged and rake thin Cherone continuing with his fluid, dance-inspired contortions around the stage like a hyper-flexible David Lee Roth (no wonder they tapped him for 1998’s ill-fated Van Halen III album), and there’s no doubt most of us couldn’t do his moves in our prime, let alone as a 62 year old!

The encore starts with another summery, feel-good recent single, Small Town Beautiful, segueing into their older track Song For Love, before the final song of the night, Rise. This was the incendiary first single from their latest, improbably and unexpectedly great, album, and the opportunity to see Bettencourt perform his insanely volatile solo is worth the price of admission alone tonight.

What a night. Two great bands. Two amazing vocalists. Two incredible rhythm sections. Two undisputed, innovative guitar heroes. Almost three dozen immense songs. As the judges tallied the points, it was Extreme’s night by sheer virtue of the intensity of their performance and the roar of the crown, though if standalone gig gets better than this from start to finish, I do not know how.

Set List – Living Colour:

Rock n’ Roll
Leave It Alone
Ignorance Is Bliss
Funny Vibe
Nothing Compares 2 U
Open Letter (To A Landlord)
Love Rears Its Ugly Head
Glamour Boys
Hip Hop Medley – White Lines (Don’t Do It)/Apache/The Message
Time’s Up
Cult Of Personality

Set List – Extreme:

It (‘s A Monster)
Decadence Dance
Rest In Peace
Hip Today
We Will Rock You (snippet)/ Play With Me
Other Side Of The Rainbow
Hole Hearted
Get Up (Like A Sex Machine) (snippet)/ Cupid’s Dead
Am I Ever Gonna Change
Midnite Express
More Than Words
Take Us Alive
Flight Of The Bumblebee
Get The Funk Out

Small Town Beautiful/ Song For Love


Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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