CONCERT REVIEW: EXTREME Transcends Space and Time at Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading, PA (August 8th, 2023)

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Extreme‘s headlining Thicker Than Blood World Tour kicked off in the US on August 2nd in Portland, and will conclude on December 16th in Italy, with shows in Australia, Japan, and Europe along the way. Their show at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading, PA, was the band’s fifth stop.

Gary Cherone [vocals], Nuno Bettencourt [guitar], Pat Badger [bass], and Kevin Figueiredo [drums]are touring in support of their chart-topping new album “Six”. In the US alone, “Six” has charted on five different Billboard charts, including Top Hard Rock Albums, #2; Top Album Sales and Top Current Album Sales, #10; Independent Albums, #14; Artist Top 100, #42 and Top 200, #67. “Six” is a godsend to the hard rock world. It is modern-vintage, ripe with unforgettable songs, roaring guitars, and fiery melodies. There are killer hard rock tracks, a few dark & stormy tracks, and a track that will put a smile on your face! If you put all songs into a musical blender and turn it up to high, you get Extreme “Six”.

Being the first new music from the band in 15 years, don’t think for one minute this is a comeback, as Extreme has never left and have no signs of slowing down. I asked Gary if fans would have to wait another 15 years for their next album; he laughed and said, “We already have songs recorded for the next release”

In Reading, PA, on a hot steamy night, Extreme came to rock hard and sounded ferocious. Aggression wins out over sentimentalism with their smoking-hot songs that are too powerful and passionate for even one audience member to show signs of tiredness. They hit the ground running with “#Rebel,” caught their collective breath, and decimated the crowd with “Decadence Dance.” Gary‘s magnetic stage presence, Nuno‘s guitar heroics, Pat‘s pounding rhythms, and Kevin‘s sonic thunder resulted in a compelling mix of rock & roll meets the Flying Wallendas. There was no safety net as rock & roll is supposed to be dangerous!

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

The band delivered a tremendous medley of songs that put them on the map within the 80s’ “Teachers Pet.” “Wind Me Up,” “Flesh n’ Blood,” and “Kid Ego.” They didn’t forget the 90s with “Cupid’s Dead,” “Rest in Peace,” and “Tragic Comic.” Highlights included when Kevin moved his drum kit to center stage while Nuno performed acoustical with his Washburn 12-string guitar to “Hole Hearted” and “Other Side of the Rainbow.”

In the final stretch of their 2 ½ hour show, the most emotionally compelling song of the night came when they performed the brassy “More Than Words” as Nuno and Gary sat on stools to deliver the heart-wrenching love song. Prior to that, Nuno gave the fans “Midnight Express” while he tore up his acoustic guitar.

Gary did a remarkable job singing while he flew around the stage, sliding, spinning, and twirling his mic stand like a phallic baton. Like a pent-up tiger let out of his cage, he circled the stage singing every song with heart and soul. It’s almost as if he is processing the lyrics in real-time and conveying them to the audience. He is the consummate showman and performed for all the fans in the back of the venue.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

Nuno‘s guitar playing and stage acrobats were amazing, even with his right knee in a brace from an earlier injury this year. Like a fine wine, as he and the entire band are only getting better with time. He epitomizes sheer effortless virtuosity making his fiery fret-burning hammer-ons and alternate-picking look easy. The range of sounds he produced in his solos was impressive. His two-handed tapping arpeggios on “Get the Funk Out” was legendary to watch and awe-inspiring. His entire performance was a dazzling display of guitar-playing wizardry. Fans had to take a bow to the new guitar king.

Pat is the sonic ambassador between the rhythm of Kevin‘s drumming and Nuno‘s guitar playing. Kevin laid down a solid driving beat like a runaway train, while Pat was an unstoppable force with fingers flying at break-neck speed while taking on all the backing vocals. During their performance, they were in lockstep on every beat at the exact moment giving the band their tight sound. These little things make all the difference in a live show.

A song written and designed to showcase Nuno‘s knob-whirling volume swells, phase-shifting prowess, epic delay, and whammy-bar fiddlin’ was “Am I Ever Gonna Change,” as it was equally as fun to watch as to listen to. Of course, no Extreme show would be complete without Nuno performing “Flight of the Wounded Bumble Bee.” In total, the band also performed five new songs off “Six”,  and closed the show with “Rise” and its explosive guitar solo.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

Fans have been starved for great hard rock, and Extreme fits the bill as they were present in-the-moment from the beginning to the middle to the end of the show. They have remained one of rock’s most unpredictable, undeniable, and unbreakable bands. The essence of them is their brotherhood which creates their fantastic music and drives their energetic live performance. Here’s to the winners! Their rabid Pennsylvania fans continuously showered them with gratitude and heartfelt applause as Nuno continually thanked them for helping reignite their career. In return, the band gave them an unforgettable concert.

There are still more shows available to see Extreme; please check out the website for a show near you.

EXTREME Photo Gallery (Photos by Robert Cavuoto):

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