Back in the early 90’s, bands like tonight’s headliners Extreme, along with support group The Dan Reed Network and others such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Faith No More, paved the way for the funk rock revolution. After Extreme’s headline slot at this year’s Ramblin’ Man Fair in Kent, I was excited to see them at their own show.
With a massive queue that stretched right around the corner, it was clear that as many of the attendees were there for Dan Reed as they were for Extreme. As they took to the stage, the busy Academy went crazy for the Dan Reed Network. With a setlist spanning their 30-odd year career, it’s very obvious that Dan just adores being on stage. His presence was captivating as he danced his way through the classics such as “RItual” and “Get To You” followed by a snippet of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” getting the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. The pace was slowed somewhat with another classic in the form of “Rainbow Child” before “Champion” from the latest release Fight Another Day picked it all back up again. Dan’s voice is still incredible live and final track “Get To You” had the lads singing their hearts out as the crowd bellowed back.
At 9:15, the house lights dimmed, the patiently waiting crowd erupted and Extreme literally exploded onto the stage, kicking straight into “It’s a Monster” from their classic and most well know album Pornograffiti. With no new releases since 2008, we were treated to a greatest hits set list with the epic “Get The Funk Out” getting a surprise outing as only the third song in.
Perhaps more suited as a show closer, the crowd lapped up the energy from Gary Cherone as he pulled some moves that Mick Jagger would be jealous of. “Kid Ego” was the lucky track of choice taking us all back to 1989 and debut album Extreme whilst crowd favourite “Play With Me” saw an epic drum solo by Kevin Figueiredo, accompanied by Nuno Bettencourt on a stand alone kit placed to the left of the main kit as they played off against each other with some incredibly fast paced fills.
Nuno’s solos were incredible as always, as he took centre stage on more than one occasion with his blistering fretwork particularly during “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” and the aforementioned “Play With Me”.
It’s crazy to think that this year marks the 25th anniversary of III Sides to Every Story, as each track sounds just as fresh today as it did back then. To mark the occasion, there were several songs from the album included in the set, some that haven’t been played in a very long time with Gary even apologising in case he forgot the words during a magnificent acoustic rendition of “Tragic Comic”. My personal favourite, however, harked all the way back to Pornograffitti – as “Hole Hearted” kicked in and the crowd sang every word back wholeheartedly.
All too soon it was time for set closer, the frantic “Decadence Dance”, and Extreme left the stage to huge applause and cheering and the heavy stamping of feet, with the Brummies clearly hungry for more. Their encore saw an ever beautiful rendition of “More Than Words”, a blistering “Warheads”, an incredibly rare performance of “Peacemaker Die” and a victorious cover of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” which finished off the evening with a bang.
With almost 30 years under their belts, they’re looking better than ever and are certainly not showing any signs of slowing down. We just need some new music to get our teeth into the next time they visit out shores. All in all, this was an awesome evening of reminiscing and enjoying some good old funk rock, singing our hearts out to get us in the festive spirit.
Photos by Amplified Gig Photography