Long before Gary Cherone fronted Van Halen or Nuno Bettencourt played lead guitar for Rihanna and Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party, Boston’s hard rock heroes Extreme were racking up multi-platinum sales while progressively sculpting the sound of the early ’90s. Along with fellow original Pat Badger (bass) and 2007 initial reunion addition/fellow Satellite Partier Kevin Figueiredo (drums), the band is back yet again, this time celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Extreme II: Pornograffitti” (often regarded as its definitive album thus far).
While this tour was unapologetically nostalgic in nature, the group’s eclectic rhythms still come across in a class of their own, especially considering they were so different from everything else on the radio at the time and remain an anomaly over two decades later.
Besides releasing the double CD set on UMe (featuring a remastered edition of the original record alongside several rarities), the foursome best known for blending hard rock with funk metal just prior to the grunge era is also showcasing that unique sound on an extensive winter tour. At Chicago’s House of Blues, the guys came out firing on all cylinders, extending the epic opening “Decadence Dance” and treating the downtown club like it was a massive arena from the first time around.
While this tour was unapologetically nostalgic in nature, the group’s eclectic rhythms still come across in a class of their own, especially considering they were so different from everything else on the radio at the time and remain an anomaly over two decades later. “When I’m President” and “Get The Funk Out” were just two of the many riff-charged examples that blended unrelenting bombast with meaty grooves and a melodic sensibility.
Commercially speaking, the ballads “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted” always faired best, which were both performed “MTV Unplugged”-style and found Cherone’s lofty vocals virtually untainted. Even thematically, “Pornograffitti” continues to resonate as a critical social commentary on blatant sex, greed and general excess, perhaps most boldly assessed through “Money (In God We Trust)” and the title track.
In addition to the entire conceptual collection, Extreme also offered an abridged history of its “bastard sons of Queen, Aerosmith and Van Halen” beginnings through a few post-millennial musings. It all made for a generous trip down memory lane, but also served as a testament to the band’s reignited vigor, which given members’ collaborative and individual lineages thus far, would likely amount to some fascinating new material.