Extreme confidence in full colour

7 September 2023

In a double act worthy of an arena, Living Colour and Extreme have the crowd on their feet from start to finish. Harvey Rae can’t help but join them. 

Extreme, Living Colour 
Regal Theatre, 6 September 2023 

Only a confident band takes Living Colour on tour as their support act.  

The funk-metal outfit formed by guitarist Vernon Reid in New York are not just Grammy Award-winning pioneers, they’re famed for blistering live shows. Whether it’s Reid’s legendary fretboard workouts or Corey Glover’s masterful voice control, Living Colour’s talent is still as wild and self-evident as it was when they formed back in 1984. 

But Extreme aren’t your average live band, either. Yes, they lack the edgy politics and, frankly, the cool factor of Living Colour’s bright aesthetic. But in its place is a stadium rock phenomenon performed by some of the most talented virtuosos on the planet. 

Whether it’s the acrobatic dance moves of ace singer Gary Cherone (who once fronted Van Halen) or Pat Badger’s funk bass and impressive harmonies, it’s impossible to take our eyes off the Boston outfit from the first song It (’s a Monster)

Corey Glover shows masterful vocal control in Living Colour’s rocking set. Photo: Adrian Thomson

Then there’s Nuno Bettencourt. The guitarist widely considered alongside Reid and the late Eddie Van Halen as one of the genre’s greats is simply ridiculous. Backed by his six stacker Marshall cabinets and with a mix of speed picking and touch tapping frequently leaving jaws on the floor, he is the ultimate showman. 

Indeed, on Wednesday night it feels like Nuno’s world; we’re just living in it. 

If it takes confidence to upstage a band as good as Living Colour, it also takes confidence to open with some of your biggest and best hits: Decadence Dance, Rest in Peace and Play With Me all arrive inside the first six songs. 

Play With Me is a highlight. Immortalised by Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the neo-classical shred-fest is so technically astounding that us mere mortals are left to stare, awestruck as a wide-eyed emoji. Meanwhile, Nuno uses just one hand for a few seconds as he comically covers a faux yawn with the other. It’s all fun and games of course and, as the night’s defacto host between songs, Nuno’s humour is on point throughout. 

Underappreciated gem Am I Ever Gonna Change is another series of technical feats and sounds, as the inventive guitars recall Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour. Part of the 20-minute orchestral suite Everything Under the Sun, it’s perhaps Extreme’s most overlooked work.  

Guitarist and defacto host Nuno Bettencourt is the ultimate showman. Photo: Adrian Thomson

The biggest hits, More than Words and Hole Hearted, are sung more than wholeheartedly by the sold-out crowd at Regal Theatre, who are on their feet for almost the entire night.  

That enthusiasm is partly due to Living Colour’s insistence on us standing from the outset (“this is not a sitting down show!” we are told). Their covers of Led Zeppelin, Grandmaster Flash and Sinead O’Connor (via Prince) sit nicely alongside radio hits Love Rears Its Ugly Head and Cult of Personality. The latter has Glover climbing to and singing from the top of the balcony, while celebrating the 30th anniversary of heaviest album Stain sees Leave Me Alone and Auslander amongst the highlights.  

Whether it’s the confidence to have Living Colour open for you; the confidence to grab the crowd early and not let go; or, perhaps most daringly, to follow all that with an encore of two new tracks and finishing the night on recent single RISE, it’s as if Extreme were saying “friends, we’re just getting started, now go check out the new record.” It rocks, by the way.  

This may have looked like a throwback to the excesses of 80s hair metal on paper, but the end result is a band still very much at the peak of their powers throwing down a dance-rock, funked out masterclass. Small Perth theatre show? It felt every bit like an arena spectacular. 

Pictured top: Extreme rock the Regal Theatre in a show that had everyone on their feet. Photo: Adrian Thomson

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Author —
Harvey Rae

Harvey is a familiar face in the Perth arts scene, having been a journalist, promoter, events manager, artistic planner, songwriter, radio host, marketer, publicist, label owner and more. Music may be his first love, but you'll regularly find him at anything comedy, theatre or food related. Harvey gravitates towards the swings but sometimes forgets he’s too big for a playground flying fox, too.

Past Articles

  • Who’s who elevate Timmy’s Tommy

    You Am I revisit The Who’s classic Tommy, with two of Australia’s finest rock vocalists. Harvey Rae goes on an amazing journey.

  • Slowdive bring everything alive

    Slowdive may have won over a new generation with their timeless sound but they have lost none of the old.  Harvey Rae revels in the sensory explosion.

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