Come Together Part 3

The dessert to my reunion tour weekend was seeing Extreme at Irving Plaza on Monday night. Excuse me, the Fillmore at Irving Plaza. New ownership? I don’t care. Just keep a few rock clubs open, NYC.

(Tangent: I bought the tickets months ago with my stimulus package money. The part that didn’t go to supporting Obama and a children’s theatre.)

My head was on vapors. My legs and back were worn out from driving a new car for over 30 hours in 3 days when I’m not so used to driving anymore. Emotionally, I was also spent. I was dressed like a tool because of an audition for a commercial where I was an office worker guy rescued by a lifeguard. So I go to a rock concert dressed like somebody’s dad, only I wasn’t escorting my teenage child. I didn’t want to carry a change of clothes because they frisk you at the door…especially, inexplicably, me. If I were to take a backpack, it would be a signal that I was hoping for a cavity search. I don’t know about you but I find that a buzzkill.

The ticket said the show started at 5:30pm. That seemed a bit early to rock on a Monday night but I got in line right after the audition. Turns out the opening act to the opening act was 2 hours of bands who did the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. It was proof positive that it takes a lot of hard work to truly rock.

Wannabes get together with an actual professional musician for a day and work up a 2-3 song set they do that night. The winners go to England for a big rock event.

While Kip Winger’s and Gilby Clarke’s groups were pretty good, my favorite was the one headed by Mark Slaughter. The lead guitarist was 16, the rhythm guitarist was 12, and the drummer was 10. They were really together in spite of the 15-year-old girl singer who had a meltdown when here microphone didn’t work. Apparently, she also didn’t meet up until 1pm that day. It seems like the bands were directed to keep going no matter what happened. And they did! I hope they go to England.

Glen Hughes seemed like a jerk. Like his reputation was on the line. So angry. I can understand it to a point but the way he behaved was overkill. Elliot Easton from the Cars had a lame group. Was it them or was it him? He didn’t seem to put much into it.

It was like watching rockstars become teaching artists. I think I might have to give that a try sometime. Most of the participants were in the upper Gen X/early Baby Boomer bracket but the pro rockers were running around like I do when my students are doing a play they wrote. Equipment wasn’t working, things were being played at the wrong times, phrases were off, people forgot stuff, and it was big, stinkin’ mess. But soooo great.

King’s X was a good opening act. After watching 2 hours of groups try to rock, it was good to see a band really do it.

Nuno Bettencourt was awesome in a way I’ve not seen. He just knocked it out of the park. He plays these really complicated, tough phrases on the guitar like they’re nothing. He’s got magic. At this time, he has attained my Ultimate Rock Guitar God status. Sorry Eddie Van Halen. It’s over. You had a good run.

What do they have in common? Working with Gary Cherone, who apparently was quite sick on Monday night but you’d never know it from how relentlessly he threw himself all over that little stage. I was worn out from watching the band just go at it for 2 solid hours. They truly seemed to be having fun and wanting to be there. Gary, it’s good you’re back with the band that cares.

The concert ended at midnight. After 6.5 hours of standing in one place I couldn’t feel my knees. I didn’t care. Nuno, a fellow Virgo, inspired me to be better. An object lesson in mastering your territory. Extreme isn’t the biggest act ever but they really put it all into that show. It’s been a looooong time since a performance combined such skill, magical presence, and joy. Thank you, Mr. Bettencourt!

Watch this: