Extreme @ Fillmore at Irving Plaza (8/4/2008)

Logo - Extreme

Artist: Extreme
Venue: The Fillmore NY (New York, NY)
Opener: King’s X, Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp
Date: 8/4/2008
Label: Open E Records

It had been well documented about 2008 being pretty much the year of the comeback but the interesting thing about the title was that many of the bands had not really gone anywhere and had instead merely fallen off of many music fans musical radar. That made tonight’s show with Extreme such an amazing event because this was a band that was truly coming back in terms of their reunion and choosing to record new and exciting material for those who had missed them. They would set up some area shows and the one we would find ourselves at would be The Fillmore NY and the guys would bring King’s X along for direct support. That’s a lot of high class Rock and Roll for anyone if you asked me. Of course I had not realized that also for tonight’s festivities would be another gala that was set up for the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. Should you not have any idea about this, it is a little bit of a music seminar and a lot of Rock and Roll jamming. It gives the average Joe the chance to perform on a notable stage with some true Rock Stars and like many things this comes with a relatively high price tag. Anyways, the night was set up to showcase this event first and it was set to run some two hours before the main acts even came on. Even though this particular show would feature guys like Kip Winger and Dave Ellefson, I opted to pass because I wanted my energies available for King’s X and Extreme. When I made my way inside a little later I heard mixed opinions on it as some people told me it was a terrible waste of time while others felt that it was the best thing they ever experienced. Clearly I had managed to talk to fans of the main bands performing and the relative or friend of someone who had jammed with the camp. It was only moments after I got into place that King’s X hit the stage.

King’s X: The guys had just released their new album “XV” on InsideOut Music and it was an album that finds them continuing to excel in their particular brand of Melodic Rock. The place was still packed with those Rock Camp folks and that was great to see because if there is any band that deserves the attention and doesn’t always get it, it would be King’s X. It amazes me that no matter how many fans the band adds to their numbers that they are still one of the best kept secrets in the business today. The band came out with the big guns and deftly approached a set that was primarily newer material and while this is great to some, I had only briefly engaged the album and hence was more unfamiliar with it than I would liked to have been. Of course it was still very easy to enjoy the proceedings because the three guys who make up the band are so tight and commanding of the stage that you can’t help it. The band has been the same lineup since they founded the group in the early eighties and this probably has a lot to do with their ability to be in a perfect lock night after night. Singer/bassist Dug Pinnick still has the necessary pipes and he delivered his best in his basic black stage attire with the shirt opened to the belt line. While he sings the lead vocals the talents of drummer Jerry Gaskill and guitarist Ty Tabor are heard throughout and that makes the choruses of King’s X tracks all the more appealing. They didn’t get to a couple of the numbers that I would have liked to hear but that’s to be expected when you only end up with a nine song set list for a gig. I don’t even think the band played for an hour tonight because it seemed to be over faster than it even began. In any event I am sure that they will return soon enough because King’s X seems to be one of those bands that play often and regularly. Now it was time for the return of Extreme.

Extreme: I had always been more of the casual fan of Extreme since their beginnings and while I loved the self-titled debut and it’s follow up “Pornograffiti”; I was less than enthusiastic about “Three Sides To Every Story” and soon had moved on to other bands since my tastes required more thundering Metal as opposed to the Melodic and Funky stuff, but I digress. When the band split and appeared to have done so for good there was a space left in the sound that was clearly missed. A couple of years ago the powers that be at VH1 had attempted to reunite them for some odd reality show called “Bands Reunited” but with Nuno refusing to be filmed and Cherone questioning it on the whole, the episode was a flop. Cherone moved on to Van Halen as well during these off years and while it appeared to be a good move for him as a singer it was instead an ill-received disaster. Fortunately for the fans that still clung to the hopes, all seemed right in the alignment of the musical stars and the band was back in action once again. Of the four original members we would only find Gary Cherone, Nuno Bettencourt and Pat Badger present as Paul Geary is no longer handling the drumming duties. These days the former musician is a high level music executive who does his work with Extreme from behind the scenes and in his place sits the very talented Kevin Figueiredo.

Extreme’s new CD is entitled “Saudades de Rock” and while it didn’t appear to be available in shops yet, the guys would have it on hand for the eager fan to purchase and with many of the tracks playing on their MySpace and website, there were few in attendance who had no idea what the new material sounded like. They would hit the stage with a surge of energy that I don’t often get to see and that’s saying something given the amount of shows that I actually attend. This is a welcome change because no one likes to see a band who doesn’t seem to be enjoying doing this, and with singer Gary Cherone performing acrobatic splits and stretches over the crowd as they delivered a new number “Comfortably Dumb” it was clear that Extreme was back in business and loving every second of it. I expected Nuno to sound great and Gary as well, but I was very impressed by just how locked into the groove the rhythm section was with the new guy on board. Pat seemed to be playing in the pocket and not worrying about the drummer keeping up with everyone and I could definitely say that young Kevin was an excellent choice for the job. “Decadence Dance” came up next from the album “Pornograffiti” which had everyone singing along early to the bands visible approval. Gary was really on fire tonight and was almost impossible to follow. He was sporting goggles that had one eye X’d out, and while I am sure this was a nod to the band name, I had never heard about him doing this kind of thing in the past. Tonight the guys were doing an even mix of old and new material, and while their set would feature more of their established tracks than King’s X would offer up, it was great to find that their new material worked incredibly well along the lines of the tunes that everyone loved about Extreme in the first place. “Star” is an outright homage to Queen, and I am hoping that everyone has by now seen the video of them doing the medley of the band during that Freddy Mercury memorial so long ago because they really did the band justice. Do some web surfing to find it if you have not.

The audience was moving and grooving for lack of a better description of the proceedings and there were smiles everywhere as the energetic set continued to impress those in attendance. They did a first album medley that I loved since it combined three numbers most known from the release and to this day I still call “Teacher’s Pet”, “Mother”. They would of course deliver “the big hit” with “More Than Words” and the whole place was singing along with them for that one which was nice because you know the band can feel it back at them in a place like The Fillmore NY. Nuno was on fire on the fret board and while he was not always visibly showing his enthusiasm as much as concentration, you just knew that he had to love the reaction his riffs were getting. It’s ok, I would rather a great player like him focus on the task at hand as opposed to throwing the guitar into the air for a crowd reaction any day. As the night drew to a close out we got a rousing “Get The Funk Out” and during this one it seemed like someone had turned the entire room up a notch or two in terms of volume. This continued into the final number which was another favorite of mine, “Hole Hearted”, and once it was done, they took their bows and were gone. Whew, what an adrenaline rush. Needless to say I snared a copy of the album that night and suggest that you do the same thing.

All in all this was a stunning show when it came down to pure Rock & Roll energy but I did have a couple of reservations about it. Without being insulting to the Rock Camp event, I think that this should have been a separate function as opposed to pairing it up with this particular Rock show. I felt that combining this locked a lot of people out who had been dying to see either Extreme or King’s X because of the extra fans and huge guest list for the camper event. I based this on my seeing people being turned away because of the affair being long sold out while stacks of passes were doled out to the camps participants. My hope is that Extreme returns soon to a no holds barred headlining show with a couple of other solid openers and that sometime soon I get to see in person what the Rock camp is up to. They have a lot of quality names involved so I am sure that it could be interesting. Only time will tell.

King’s X Set List:
1. Alright
2. Rocketship
3. Move
4. Dawgman
5. Pray
6. Born To Be Loved
7. Go Tell
8. Wookin Pa Nub
9. Head

Extreme set list:

1. Comfortably Dumb
2. Decadence Dance
3. Rest In Peace
4. Star
5. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
6. Medley (Kid Ego/Little Girls/Teacher’s Pet)
7. Play With Me
8. Slide
9. Midnight Express
10. More Than Words
11. Cupid’s Dead
12. Take Us Alive
13. Am I Ever Gonna Change
14. Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee
15. Get The Funk Out
16. Hole Hearted

Official Website: http://www.extreme-band.com/
Official Website: http://www.kingsxrock.com
Official Website: http://www.rockcamp.com

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