It was another warm Southern California evening as I pulled into a very crowded parking structure that serves The Garden Walk, home of the House of Blues Anaheim. The House of Blues is one of my favorite venues – the staff is friendly, courteous, and helpful; the food is delicious; and the drinks are strong. Completing the perfection is the venue’s sound system and as I walked in, I heard music thundering through the walls.
Living Colour kicked things off with their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” and it is one of my favorites. Front-man Corey Glover and guitarist Vernon Reid encouraged the crowd to sing along.
Up next is “Leave It Alone” and Reid’s effortless guitar solos are mesmerizing.
Watching Doug Wimbish’s bass style is mind boggling as he goes from slap to pluck to finger all at the same time. Wimbish has been a session musician and worked with Rolling Stones, James Brown, and Annie Lennox, so you know he has the skills! The band is guided by the steady and solid drumming of Will Calhoun and he is flawless.
Living Colour takes us through “Middle Man,” “Desperate People,” “Nothing Compares 2 U,” (reminding us of Sinéad O’Connor’s version of the Prince tune), and “Open Letter (to a Landlord).” Between songs, laughter comes from the stage in the form of Reid and Glover’s friendly banter.
They did the song everyone knows, “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” with “Apache” and “The Message” as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip hop. The whole place is singing; seriously, I don’t know one person that doesn’t know this song! Everyone was singing and dancing and totally into the moment.
Glover and Reid played to the crowd, then step back and it’s Wimbish’s turn. He comes forward and plays to the crowd as well, steps back, and on and on it goes. The visuals and the music all played together and I realize: THIS is a rock and roll show!
Living Colour closed out their 45-minute set with their monster hit, “Cult of Personality,” which brought the audience to a frenzy with singing and dancing. What a great show! They ended with The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”
It only seemed like a short time and Extreme took the stage. “Extreme” is definitely what I would call the acrobatics performed by front-man Gary Cherone! This guy is nothing short of a contortionist!
They wasted no time, beginning with “It’s a Monster” and ripping up the stage. I had to remind myself that these guys started as an ‘80s hair metal band that matured years ago, coming into their own, cultivating a sound that belongs to them.
“Decadence Dance,” “#Rebel,” and “Rest in Peace” were up next and all through every song; Nuno Bettencourt and Cherone are harmonizing together with Bettencourt’s guitar, Pat Badger’s bass lines, and the heartbeat of the band represented by drummer Kevin Figueiredo.
They took us through other favorites like “Hip Today,” “Teacher’s Pet,” “Play With Me” complete with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” intro, “Hole Hearted,” “Cupid’s Dead.”
Extreme and Living Colour are embarking on a world tour, and fans of rock and roll are in for a special treat. When I heard and saw Bettencourt playing “Midnight Express” on an acoustic as if the guitar was an extension of himself, I felt I was witnessing something Biblical.
When it came time for the “big one,” aka “More than Words,” the audience sang along and had lighters and phones up. It was also the quietest the venue had been all night. Such an incredible moment with an iconic song.
Extreme played “Banshee” off their new album and Bettencourt gave another amazing guitar solo, plus they added in Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” intro. After “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” and “Get the Funk Out,” they said goodnight, but came back for an encore with “Small Town Beautiful,” “Song for Love,” and “Rise.”
I feel like my whole body is shaking and I’m drenched in sweat. I walked to the top of the parking structure and sat down. I thought to myself, “Now THAT was a fucking rock and roll show!”