Show Reviews



extremeSometimes it’s nice to go to a show just to rock the fuck out, and last night’s King’s X / Extreme show at New York’s Irving Plaza was just that (other than the abysmally embarrassing “Rock Band Fantasy Camp” opening act). No schmoozing, no interviewing bands, no worrying about guest list comps — just buying a ticket and rocking it solo, the old fashioned way. I only ran into one person I knew all night, and no fewer than 5 random people commented on my Saigon Kick t-shirt (I mean, if ever there was a show to wear it at, it’s this one, right?). Both bands stormed through sets that mixed material both old and new and proved why they’re still around and vibrant 15+ years after their heyday in the spotlight.

king's xKing’s X proved to be the grizzled rock vets that they are, the true definition a touring, working band. Pinnick, Tabor and Gaskill powered through a rough sound mix that didn’t get squared away until the 4th or 5th song and bass amp troubles that seemed to plague Pinnick all night. Now 15 albums into their career, the band played several cuts from their latest release, the aptly titled XV, and a number of fan favorites including “Dogman,” “Lookin’ For Love,” and “Over My Head.” Obviously the latter three elicited the strongest crowd response, but the more upbeat new tracks actually seemed to capture the audience’s attention as well. The band exudes such a sense of professionalism and are such top-notch musicians that it’s hard not to respect anything they do. Seeing them in a support role was less than ideal, and ultimately I would’ve loved a much longer set — but there is always next time.

Extreme too are no strangers to the stage, and are every bit the level of professional that King’s X are. What struck me most about Extreme was the presentation. Here’s a band that hasn’t toured in 13 years and is often associated with a much-lampooned genre. But much to their credit, Extreme didn’t opt for the nostalgia angle or try to relive the glory days, nor did they opt for the “we’re still relevant, really!” angle — instead they just went for the “We’re Extreme, this is what it is” angle, and it worked beautifully.

Watching Gary Cherone perform in person made it abundantly clear why the brothers Van Halen chose him to replace Sammy Hagar; not only is his range similar to David Lee Roth’s (and he’s a better singer), but the guy looks and moves JUST like Diamond Dave, complete with leg-kicks and pantomime hand motions to the words. Honestly I was quite surprised at how good of a frontman Cherone is. Extreme too played a whole batch of new songs from their forthcoming album Saudades De Rock, but played plenty of hits as well. The most humorous moment of the night came when Nuno Bettencourt (who shredded like a motherfucker all night long, btw) and Cherone sat down on side-by-side stools with an acoustic guitar, and pretended to play something other than the band’s biggest hit, “More Than Words,” — then joked about the fact that everyone knew what was coming before playing it. Personal highlight for me: “Rest in Peace;” loved that song when it came out, still love it today. “Play With Me” was a huge crowd-pleaser as well.

Definitely check this tour out if it comes through your town (but skip the opening act shenanigans). Together, King’s X and Extreme are two funk-metal powerhouses that don’t wax nostalgic about a bygone era, instead forging ahead and continuing to create quality music. Be prepared for a killer show from both bands.


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