Let’s go on a nostalgia trip……It was the early nineties, Bryan Adams was topping the charts all over the world with Everything I Do and on a rainy day in Glasgow he brought his Waking Up The World tour to Celtic Park, with Extreme as support. I stood on the terraces (yes, it was that long ago!) and heard Extreme play the songs from Pornograffitti, which was only a couple of years old. Fast forward twenty two years and Extreme and I are back in Glasgow, and they’re playing Pornograffitti in its entirety, because it’s now old enough to be deemed a classic! Some things have changed in the intervening years. I’m older, greyer, not much wiser, but Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt must have some bloody ugly paintings in the attic because they don’t seem to have changed a bit!
First things first, and a short opening set from London three piece Leogun. They got right down to rock and roll business and spent half an hour going at it full tilt. They brought a lot of energy and got a really good reception from the crowd, many of whom waited to say hello and get merch signed by the band after the gig. If they continue to play like this they’ll be making new fans everywhere they go.
Just after 9pm and the crowd are getting more and more excited, roaring every time a roadie comes on stage. When the lights finally dimmed and Extreme took the stage the energy went through the roof. The show ran over two hours, and they never flagged. These guys have been at this a long time, which can sometimes be a bad thing, as formerly brilliant performers work through a show on autopilot. No chance of that here, this was a performance from guys who clearly still have a passion for what they do. From the opening notes of Decadence Dance Gary was all over the stage, posing for us photographers (thanks!) and using up so much energy it seemed like he wouldn’t make it to the end of the gig. He did though, and was just as energetic after two hours of bounding around stage as he was at the start.
A note about the venue before I go on. The Academy is a pretty big venue, with a large floor space, balcony and beautiful high ceiling. In short it’s a fantastic space where you would expect great acoustics. Why then, is it known as one of the worst venues in town for sound? Gary and Nuno chatted to the crowd throughout the gig, but unfortunately most of what they said was incomprehensible. Same goes for the music. If it wasn’t for already knowing the words I’d have found it hard to understand any of it. The best sound of the night was the crowd, like a 2550 strong choir, taking over and singing More Than Words back to the band. Something needs to be done to sort these problems, as hundreds of fans took to Facebook after the gig to voice their complaints, with some going so far as to leave early as the sound was ruining their night.
Anyway, none of that was Extreme’s fault, although they were clearly aware of the problems, and even had to ad-lib a quick rendition of Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down while a technical problem was worked on. Like true professionals they carried on and put on a really good show. The hardcore of fans right in front of the stage were so busy jumping, dancing and singing I doubt they even noticed the problems as Extreme gave them the whole of Pornograffitti before coming back for a six song encore that showcased the best of their music from other albums. Classics like Get The Funk Out, It (‘s a Monster) and Hole Hearted were highlights, as the crowd sang along with every word. As I said, More Than Words, probably Extreme’s best known song was my track of the night, with Gary and Nuno’s voices leading the crowd and the crowd giving everything they had in return. Of the encore tracks Rest in Peace and Am I Ever Gonna Change were brilliant, with Nuno’s guitar up there with some of the best you’ll hear. His talent is rivalled only by his obvious passion for what he does, as he plays with a constant smile on his face. He also gave us a beautiful piano solo, and it didn’t go unnoticed that the best moments of the evening were the ones where everything got a bit quieter. Piano and guitar solos and ballads, in particular When I first Kissed You were the highlights, because when the sound got turned up it got harder and harder to make out what I was listening to.
In short, in the twenty two years since I last saw them Extreme have honed their craft to a fine art. They really know how to put on a great show. They have some brilliant songs, and a fan base that loves them. I hope it’s not so long before I get to see them again, but next time please, make it a different venue.
Set List: Decadence Dance, L’il Jack Horny, When I’m President, Get The Funk Out, More Than Words, Tie Your Mother Down, Money (In God We Trust), It (‘s a Monster), Pornograffitti, When I First Kissed You, Suzi (Wants her all day what?), Flight of the wounded bumblebee/He Man Woman Hater, Song For Love, Hole Hearted, Play With Me, Rest In Peace, Am I ever gonna change, Midnight Express, Color Me Blind, Cupid’s Dead.