At the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., December 13, 2017

EXTREME (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., December 13, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Towards the end of the ’80s, Hard Rock and Funk became somewhat unusual bedfellows where hard hitting riffs collided with deep grooves to create an invigorating twist on two well established genres.

Sure, it wasn’t entirely new with Sly and the Family Stone and Mother’s Finest and even Aerosmith and Zeppelin laying down the groove in a Rock format but things really took off when the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour and Faith No More took matters one step further. Amongst the pack leaders of the Funk Metal movement were Dan Reed Network and Extreme so to get both bands on one bill together for a UK tour was an inspired move.

First up was Dan Reed Network returning to Newcastle after a hugely successful appearance earlier in the year at The Cluny but this time had the benefit of a much bigger stage to spread their wings.

With their uplifting blend of Bon Jovi stadium Rock and Prince-like Funk, DRN hit the ground running with an effervescent Resurrect and the impressively large crowd responded accordingly.

With catchy songs and infectious grooves, the likes of Under My Skin and Forgot To Make Her Mine, bristled with energy. The laid-back Rainbow Child with its dreamy Prince influenced melody was the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer’s day despite temperatures plummeting to below zero outside.

Dan Reed himself exudes charisma and his warm, melodic vocals were vibrant on Baby Now I which was cleverly intermixed with snippets of Earth Wind and Fire’s Let’s Groove, I Was Made For Lovin’ You by KISS, Metallica’s Sandman and Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, an eclectic mix indeed and one that perfectly highlights their versatility while also being a shed load of fun.

With guitarist Brion James cranking the riffs and slamming the Funk while Booker T bassist Melvin Brannon II and Dan Pred on drums laid down the irresistible groove to DRN’s lively, colourful cocktail of Funk Rock with Ritual and Get To You hitting the top line. An a cappella Long Way To Go was a really nice touch which left the band and crowd united in one voice.

The first time Extreme graced a stage in Newcastle was the week that their mega hit More Than Words sat close to the top of the charts. Their show at the old Riverside was sold out with hundreds locked outside. Those of us lucky enough to have a ticket witnessed a special show that is still whispered about in hushed tones today.

Having one of the biggest selling singles of 1991 was something of a double-edged sword for Extreme. While success is usually welcomed by most artists, a huge hit with a ballad damaged their Rock credibility in the eyes of some who cried “sell out”.

Those casual buyers who’d bought parent album Pornograffitti on the back of the single were in for something of a shock. Rather than being packed full of love songs it was crammed with rather tasty hard edge Rock which nodded in the direction of a Funky Van Halen. More Than Words being just one part of a multi-faceted and hugely satisfying Rock album.

It’s been 9 years since they last played in Newcastle so their return was long overdue and a near sell out crowd welcomed them back on the opening night of their UK tour.

Show opener It'(s A Monster) with its preening swagger and Li’l Jack Horny tangled with prime-time vintage Aerosmith putting any doubters down with a bump. Get The Funk Out strutted and cavorted with its heavy weight groove and huge chorus.

With Extreme’s Rock credentials well and truly flying high there was no shame in showing different sides to their repertoire with the tight harmonies of Hole Hearted and Tragic Comic showed a real depth and maturity in their song writing.

Frontman Gary Cherone possessed a huge reservoir of energy, racing up the drum riser staircase and contorting his body into all sorts of inhuman shapes while guitar wizz Nuno Bettencourt’s razor sharp riffs and lightning fast solos showed just why he topped guitar polls worldwide. Indeed, guitar aficionados were not left disappointed as Bettencourt made for a bumper pay day from the promoter who promised to pay him per note during Midnight Express and Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee. No wonder Rhianna snapped him up for her touring band during Extreme’s down time.

The Bluegrass Hoe Down of Take Us Alive and the glorious Queen harmonies of Stop The World took Extreme into the final strait before the huge riff heavy Decadence Dance brought the main set to a close.

With Bettencourt proclaiming his wish to have written Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven and continuing with, “you’ll have to make do with one of ours instead” before opening with More Than Words. Cue a multitude of cell phones in the air joined with as many voices. With Cherone and Bettencourt alone with 1000 close friends, this was quite a moment.

The rarely aired Peacemaker Die with its apocalyptic clanking cowbell followed before a rather uplifting and inspired cover of Queen’s We Are The Champions brought the party to an arm waving close.

Extreme were clearly taken aback at the reception from the Geordie faithful as Bettencourt jumped into the crowd and Cherone lapped up every last second of the applause. There was no hasty exit for these guys as Newcastle showed their appreciation for a exhilarating evening of music.

Review and Photos by Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.