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Review: Extreme & Living Colour @ Hindley Street Music Hall (Adelaide)

Extreme played Hindley Street Music Hall (Adelaide) on 8 September, 2023 - image © Mike Lockheart
Mike's life calling is live music photography. He's been lucky to work with bands shooting behind the scenes videos, concert photography and continues to shoot as often as he can with scenestr. More work and musings can be seen on @first3only.

It's almost a year to the day since Adelaide's Hindley Street Music Hall hosted its first live concert in the newly refurbished venue.

Having staged a veritable who's who of acclaimed international and homegrown musical talent, Friday night (8 September) took the mantle of being the first time the hallowed Hall hosted a true bonafide guitar hero; Nuno Bettencourt of hair metal pioneers Extreme.

In support was legendary alt-metal/ funk-rock outfit Living Colour, who drew an equal crowd to Extreme, relishing the opportunity to match the virtuoso musical chops of the headliner.

Fronted by charismatic vocalist Corey Glover, Living Colour led with a funkadelic cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Rock And Roll' and in fitting form followed up with a blazing drum solo.

Few bands would be so bold as to unleash such a solo before their second song in the set, but Living Colour's Will Calhoun, dwarfed behind an almighty silver drum kit, shone as percussionist and backbone of the four piece, demonstrating criss-crossed stick work and furious double-kick beats to dazzle the enthused audience.

Living Colour
Living Colour - image © Mike Lockheart

During 'Preachin' Blues', bassist Doug Wimbish matched Glover's high-pitched wails with mind-bending bass whammy-pedal flourishes, replicating the vocalist's impressive range with distorted yet jazzy soloing to astonishing affect.

Descending into demented funk jamming during 'Funny Vibe', guitarist Vernon Reid took centre stage to unleash some unchained, frenzied shredding, very much setting the tone for the evening.

Unable to contain their talent and mastery of their instruments, the band broke into impromptu jams between songs, flexing their creative musical chops as if in fear that if their hands and feet stalled even for a moment, the entire band would grind to a halt. It created an atmosphere of tense anticipation for the anthems the audience knew were about to come.

Living Colour.2
Living Colour - image © Mike Lockheart

Gaining an overwhelming and deserved response to 'Love Rears Its Ugly Head', performed almost in facsimile to the album with the audience singing along to every word, Living Colour had the crowd in the palm of its hand, and ventured into a well-received medley of recognisable melodies, featuring The Shadows' 'Apache' and 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash.

As its popping basslines drew to a close, the instantly rousing intro of the band's smash hit 'Cult Of Personality' rang through the PA, eventually closing out a truly memorable performance by an oft-overlooked centrepiece of '90s alt-rock on a high.

Within an instant of kick-starting their set, Bettencourt's gigantic guitar sound filled the room as if replacing all of the oxygen with a heavy argon gas. Sitting like a fine wine, its guttural texture was at the same time nuanced, communicating the subtle poetry his deeply classically-infused legato style spoke to.

The theatrical movements of frontman Gary Cherone captivated the front rows of the crowd, enthralled by the showmanship and versatile vocal talent of the singer.

Against a backdrop leaning heavily on classic Extreme artwork, the concert's lighting production illuminated the stage in a way heavily reminiscent of glam and hair metal's heyday.

Extreme.2
Extreme - image © Mike Lockheart

Bettencourt's guitar playing illustrated an undeniable raw talent that was frankly confronting – the speed in which scales on the neck were arpeggiated left you breathless. Sounding distinctly 'classic' in his phrasing of guitar licks and riffs, the band channeled their early material in way that felt authentic and remarkably current.

The band and their repertoire appeared to be tethering on the verge of breaking into full blown classical music, which finally came to a satisfying head on 'Play With Me'. Performed with a kind of bravissimo exclusive to musical veterans, the performance was energetic, youthful and highly exciting.

Nuno's sound – identified by screeching pinch harmonics, buttery legato and frantic string skipping – channeled the same adrenaline as Living Colour, appearing to be afraid of slowing down even for an instant.

With every bar filled with at least a dozen notes, midway through the set Bettencourt and band stripped back their sound for intimate performances of 'More Than Words' and 'Midnight Express'.

Extreme.3
Extreme - image © Mike Lockheart

Preceding one of the more poignant moments of the night, where he explored the entire neck of an acoustic guitar in mere seconds – Bettencourt recounted a conversation he'd had earlier in the tour with Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, respectfully asking Vernon if he could "hold back".

"F... no, I'm going for blood," was Reid's response, thus hilariously demanding that Bettencourt up his game. Indeed they both did, delivering a true spectacle of showmanship and guitar virtuosity for a highly entertaining, adrenaline charged evening of classic metal.

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