jakub | March 15, 2024

Extreme, With Special Guest Living Colour, Marvelous at the Mars Music Hall in Huntsville, Alabama, on Tuesday, March 12, 2024


 

 

The Mars Music Hall in downtown Huntsville, Alabama, played host to the latest stop on Extreme‘s Thicker Than Blood 2024 Tour with Living Colour on Wednesday night. The D-shaped Mars Music Hall is a 1,575-capacity event space that sits within the larger Von Braun Center entertainment complex, with wrap-around balcony seating and a spacious general admission floor positioned in front of an oversized stage.

I may be aging myself, but the last time I caught Living Colour live (twice in fact) was back in 1991. They played on the campus of Virginia Tech while I was still a student, headlining Burruss Hall with support from King’s X for only $10 (I still have the flier). Then I had hit up the inaugural Lollapolooza Festival that summer, where Living Colour was a featured main stage act. Needless to say, when the house lights went down at 7:30 pm and Living Colour kicked off their evening with “Middle Man” from their 1988 debut album Vivid. I knew it was going to be a spectacular evening.

However, noticeably missing from the lineup to unaware fans was drummer Will Calhoun, whom the band had previously announced was unavailable for the show due to a prior commitment. Instead, James “Biscuit” Rouse took the kit seat behind Vernon Reid (guitar), Doug Wimbish (bass), and the ever-colorful Corey Glover (lead vocals). The band didn’t miss a beat, blasting through fan favorites including “Leave It Alone” and “Time’s Up,” while including a stellar cover rendition of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

The tonality in Glover’s vocals seemingly hasn’t changed in the three-plus decades since I last experienced a Living Colour show, and there are not enough adjectives of adulation to describe how immensely talented Reid and Wimbish were with their respective instruments. They put on a masterclass of musicianship, highlighted by an emphatic, sing-along performance of their Grammy Award-winning signature single “Cult of Personality” to end their set. As Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt would joke later, he was excited to hit the road with Living Colour for this tour, until he realized that he would have to follow Reid every night.

 

Living Colour
Vernon Reid – lead guitar, guitar synthesizer, programming, laptop, backing vocals
Corey Glover – lead vocals, occasional rhythm guitar, occasional tambourine
Will Calhoun – drums, percussion, keyboards, samples, loops, programming, backing vocals (did not perform)
Doug Wimbish – bass, drums, guitar, programming, backing vocals
James “Biscuit” Rouse – drums (show substitute)

 

 

With the audience still buzzing from Living Colour and the stage equipment now turned over, the house lights went dark at approximately 8:45 pm to the gorilla image from Extreme’s latest album Six appearing on the large video screen behind drummer Kevin Figueiredo’s kit. With Figueiredo in place, Extreme’s Pornograffitti album cityscape imagery lit up the Mars Music Hall as the band blasted into “It (‘s a Monster)” with 62-year-old singer Gary Cherone pouncing out to the stage from behind Bettencourt and bassist Pat Badger. From here on out, it was simply full throttle for the next few hours.

If you have never seen Extreme live before – and Bettencourt teased all the fans that put their hands up when he asked if this was their first Extreme show with a “have you just been busy for 30 years” joke – they are as good now as they ever were. In fact, it happens to be the 35th anniversary of their self-titled debut release. That album was celebrated Wednesday night through a medley of “Teacher’s Pet / Flesh ‘n’ Blood / Wind Me Up / Kid Ego / Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today),” followed by the jaw-dropping, guitar-string slinging of Bettencourt’s “Play With Me” performance.

For two hours, the Alabama audience was treated to a musical evening that included familiar favorites such as “Decadence Dance,” “Hole Hearted,” and “More Than Words,” but perhaps more importantly the band also focused in on new tunes pulled from their critically acclaimed recent release, Six. Songs like “Banshee” played later in the set just get to the essence of why Extreme has continued its welcomed longevity — great writing, amazing harmonies, and top-notch musicianship.

As the clock was creeping towards the closure of the show, the energy level of the audience was taken up another notch when Bettencourt broke out into his infamous “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” solo before the band wrapped up its main set with the recognizable Badger-lead bassline that breaks into “Get the Funk Out.” Extreme then took a quick break before returning for their two-song encore set of “Small Town Beautiful,” followed by “Rise,” which included another astonishing guitar solo by Bettencourt. Following the obligatory stage photo for social media, the band took time out to shake hands and thank the fans in the first few rows before finally ducking out for the night.

This leg of the Thicker Than Blood Tour will wrap up on Saturday, March 16, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Extreme will then take some time off before picking back up in Germany starting June 4th at the Batschkapp.

 

Extreme
Gary Cherone – lead vocals
Nuno Bettencourt – guitars, keyboards, piano, backing and lead vocals, brass and orchestration arrangements
Pat Badger – bass, backing vocals
Kevin Figueiredo – drums, percussion, occasional backing vocals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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