Review: Extreme & Living Colour @ The Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane)

Extreme played The Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane) on 13 September, 2023 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

I arrive at The Fortitude Music Hall not long after the doors have opened to ensure I do not miss one drop of the expected delicious action of Extreme and Living Colour.

Hell yeah! For this punter, I'd have rocked up for either band to be the headliner – it's got to be a guaranteed a double delight of full-bodied talent, which I'm keen to savour like a robust cup of coffee made from the finest musical beans.

As I move from the foyer bar to beneath the chandelier of the inner chamber where music magic happens, I pass fans in band tees representing each band playing tonight.

While it could indicate there are only two punter parties in the room, I believe there is a third camp, who, like me, are feeling an inner excitement to be receiving a double-shot live music fix tonight (13 September).

First up are Living Colour, bringing the night to a banging start with 'Middle Man', which is igniting the excitement of punter anticipation creating waves of explosive energy rippling throughout the venue.

Corey Glover from the get-go is reassuring us he's still one of the best rock singers alive today – oh, those glorious pipes! Launching into Robert Johnson's 'Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)', the crowd are quick to lap up the bluesy feels, getting their hips swinging with boogie action to the pulsating rhythms.

Living Colour
Living Colour - image © Clea-marie Thorne

We are lapping up Vernon Reid's guitar mastery that is truly captivating. The emotive 'Leave It Alone', explosive 'Ignorance Is Bliss' (Will Calhoun is insane on the tubs and the riffage just adds to the frenzy of punters) is followed by 'Funny Vibe'.

Glover's vocals are soaring effortlessly as he connects us to the song's message, making me feel like a cheap instant coffee in comparison to his rich and full-bodied voice. This doesn't stop me, or any other fans, from joining in though.

Glover is taking a minute to tribute their cover of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' (Prince cover) to another fallen hero, and with the current rental crisis on the lips of everyday conversation it's fitting they have included 'Open Letter (To A Landlord)' tonight.

Living Colour.2
Living Colour - image © Clea-marie Thorne

The crowd goes ape as soon as they recognise the start of 'Love Rears Its Ugly Head' and the Living Colour fan choir chimes in at a few decibels louder for the entire song – united we sing!

Crowd participation continues with the boppy and infectious groove of 'Glamour Boys'. Glover adds to our delight as he encourages a call and response to his "I ain't no glamour boy," to which we are replying loudly: "I'm Fierce." It is a tonne of fun!

We then receive a medley: 'White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)', 'Apache' and 'The Message'. Bass maestro Doug Wimbish shines even brighter here. He's hammering out the bass grooves like a strong undercurrent beneath the riffs and beats of each part.

'Time's Up' comes next and while I thought the song title may indicate they chose this to be their last, they are not letting us down as they play for us their massive hit 'Cult Of Personality' – if their set has to end, there's no better farewell than this.

Living Colour.3
Living Colour - image © Clea-marie Thorne

You know something big is about to happen when the end of interval time is finished with music from 'King Kong', right? There's movement on the darkened stage as Extreme take their places and set fire to the venue with their opener 'It (s A Monster)'.

Oh yes, the adrenaline is already surging through our veins as we take another music hit from tonight's brew. There's no easing us into the frenzy as they morph into 'Decadence Dance' and Nuno Bettencourt in front of an impressive Marshall stack assures us he's in fine form on the axe. The speed and dexterity with which he is playing is faultless.

Fans are throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the well curated set list that has '#REBEL' turning it up and 'Rest In Peace' showcasing Gary Cherone's vocal prowess and limber dance moves and rockstar poses – it makes me think this guy eats yoga poses for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Extreme - image © Clea-marie Thorne

'Hip Today' is up next ahead of a teaser of Queen's 'We Will Rock You' inciting crowd participation before giving us a hit of 'Bill & Ted' nostalgia through their song 'Play With Me'. Those that know, know and no doubt got tongue tied more than once singing along to this back in the day with Mary Jane. Hehe!

'Other Side Of The Rainbow' and their smash hit 'Hole Hearted' take us on an emotional roller coaster of beautiful melodies and sublime vocals. The glitzy rock & roll digital backdrop that has been burning brightly behind the well-orchestrated light show is showing a line of spikes and dips of a heart monitor as we sing to the latter.

Lifting us back up to boogie wonderland is a taste of James Brown's 'Sex Machine' to introduce 'Cupid's Dead' that keeps us dancing with more funky grooves from Pat Badger on bass, who also makes moves to get with Bettencourt to dish up a dual bass and guitar solo that is totally insane.

Bettencourt jokes about getting to sit down and tells us at his age it's like having an orgasm. Not sure about that but okay. 'Am I Ever Gonna Change' and 'Midnight Express' keep Nuno sitting out in front to play.

Holy guacamole – Brisbane is witnessing Living Colour's Glover joining Cherone and Bettencourt for 'More Than Words' – first and only time on this tour. We sing our best and most heartfelt to this acoustic number.

Extreme - image © Clea-marie Thorne

A myriad of feelings can be felt imbuing the atmosphere created by the personal experiences of fans connected to this song. 'Banshee' also gets a teaser, this time it is Queen's 'Fat Bottomed Girls' that we are told is for all women of all shapes and sizes, and we are back into full swing party mode.

'Take Us Alive' with a dash of 'That's All Right' Elvis vibes, keeps the momentum up. Bettencourt keeps on impressing as if his guitar solos aren't enough to dazzle us – he is simply showing off his skills and speed and precision with his interpretation of 'Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee'.

We can't beat him, but we can sure join 'em as we get to chanting along with the band for 'Get The Funk Out' that concludes their set. That is until they respond to our whistles and calls demanding our encore.

This is served up with steel lashings of a short Bettencourt tribute to Eddie Van Halen with a morsel of 'Women In Love' before we are absorbing the instrumental hits and hammerings of 'Small Town Beautiful' and 'Song For Love' ahead of one of their latest tracks 'Rise' to end the night higher than high with a shred-tastic effort once again by Bettencourt.

But wait! There's more?! I'm jumping out of my skin right now with glee! I wish I was not as far back as I am right now. How freaking cool is this spectacle before me?

Living Colour have just swaggered out onstage to join with Extreme! The Led Zeppelin fan in me has just gone ballistic – the supergroup before me are smashing out a cover of 'Rock & Roll' – this is a second first for the last show of their tour! It is nuts, it is brilliant – all this talent before us is erupting like a hot volcano of riffage, beats and pipes-plus.

Living Colour kicked off the night with a powerful, caffeine-like jolt of single origin energy, their melodies and rhythms as invigorating as the first sip of an extra strong brew throughout their set as Calhoun and Wimbish kept it tight to give a rock-solid foundation to Glover's acrobatic vocals and Reid's guitar wizardry that still blows my mind.

Then Extreme stormed the stage, weaving their instrumental and vocal harmonies like another perfect single origin blend they created a musical concoction that was just as rich and complex instrumentally, and so impossible to deny as a perfect set embellished with a crazy light show and rockstar digital backdrop.

Extreme - image © Clea-marie Thorne

What we didn't expect was the musical double delight then morphing into a perfect blend of energies and synergies ending with what could be the best damn jam session of the year!

Living Colour and Extreme raised the roof with their one-off collaboration to celebrate the end of the tour, and I am one of the lucky witnesses to this killer collab consisting of two epic vocalists, two unreal rhythm sections and two absolute guitar legends.

They definitely saved the best show for last and lucky Brisbane who had to patiently wait their turn got the best cuppa of them all! Near three dozen shots of straight-up banger material and two one-time only collabs that ensured we got a pure adrenaline hit taking us from start to finish.

More photos from the show.

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