Extreme rock the New York State Fair
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.
: Live Reviews
, Gary Cherone
, Nuno Bettencourt