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Shredding zoo

Extreme rock the New York State Fair
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  September 9, 2008


Photos: Extreme live at the New York State Fair in Syracuse. By Stephen Dockery
As guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and vocalist Gary Cherone prepare to play what is, to most, their one hit, a moment pops into my head. Late spring of 1991. “More Than Words” comes on the radio as I drive to my senior prom, and its wistful what-have-yous are the perfect soundtrack to getting the hell out of Central New York, with any luck for good.

Seventeen years later and here I am at the Chevrolet Court of the New York State Fair in Syracuse watching a reunited Extreme ply a general-admission audience with an innocuous barrage of Zep-influenced nerf metal. When the band started playing, 70 minutes earlier, I was standing amid a crew of BBQ masticators who could not help but stare at the shirtless, tight-trousered Extreme boys. And on everyone’s mind, one question loomed large: “When are they going to play ‘More Than Words’?”

About this fair: when a band play the Chevy Court, they’re joined on stage by a translator for the hearing-impaired, who stands stage right and signs along to every word of their set (as well as between song banter). I have witnessed this several times, most memorably two years ago when I saw a Mark Farner–less Grand Funk Railroad watching and waiting for the woman to sign along with the “four young chiquitas in Omaha” part of “We’re an American Band.” For this show, I have to wait until the penultimate tune to get my moment of zen, which is the translator signing along to the chorus of “Get the Funk Out.”

“MTW” has the distinction of being the final “power ballad by a ‘hair’-metal band,” and it has an end-of-an-era door-slamming appeal that, tonight, is dragged out to epic lengths, with Nuno squiggling needless arpeggios amid countless false endings. By this point I have muscled my way to the front, past the throngs of cops keeping the aisles clear with a completely inappropriate degree of focus and determination. As Extreme close the evening with the final flourishes of “Hole Hearted,” a woman screams, “We love you, Nino!”, and the ridiculous awesomeness of the whole thing is almost too much to bear.

  Topics: Live Reviews , Gary Cherone , Nuno Bettencourt , Entertainment ,  More more >
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Re: Shredding zoo
I was at this show.  I drove all the way from Chicago, IL, by way of Detroit, MI where I met my friends so we could all drive out together.  As a huge (in adoration, not in actual size) Extreme fan, I was overjoyed when they reunited.  I was even more overjoyed that they did it right.  Not for the nostalgia of it and for the sake of some lame reunion tour that just rehashed the old stuff for the sake of making money.  (Van Halen come to mind anyone?)  They released a rockin' CD that made me believe that great rock music can still be written and recorded.  This show was amazing.  I attended the Reunion show in Boston on 6/30/06 and I firmly believe they did that to test the waters.  I'm so glad they did.  The chemistry between Nuno, Gary, Pat and Kevin is spot on.  The energy was through the roof.  Part of what I love about this band is that they love us, the fans, as much as we love them.  They give as much back to us as we give them.  I've never encountered any other band that does that, at least for me.  The music speaks to me on levels that no one else's ever has (except Nuno's solo and between-Extreme work).  I'm glad I went to the effort and expense to attend this show.  It was the best weekend I'd had in a long time.  Thanks for sharing your pictures.  It brought the magic of that night vividly back to life.    I cannot wait for the next leg of this tour to traverse the U.S. so I can do it all over again.
By buddingnovelist on 12/02/2008 at 10:24:36

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