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By John Johnson, photos Chaz Dykes of Chaz D Photography

The brisk Saturday night in downtown St. Petersburg was about to be transported back to the late 80’s via the dual rock band show at Jannus Live. A seemingly more enjoyable mode of transport considering parking anywhere within 2 miles of the venue was a nightmare, insultingly topped off with price gouging. But I digress. Back to Jannus Live and the horde that had descended on the Burg’s music standard.

The elbow to elbow crowd of mostly middle-aged revelers were gathered in anticipation to see Living Colour and Extreme.. For the record, middle-age is about 2 years on either side of 40. And most of the crowd was exactly that. The flourescently adorned Living Colour, they use that spelling due to founding member and guitarist Vernon Reid, took to the stage first. Lead by the charismatic Corey Glover, blonde and red dreadlocks jutting from his head, the four piece band from New York City tore through an 11 song set. Their music is a creative fusion influenced by heavy metal, funk, jazz, hip hop, punk, and alternative rock. Sadly their set was a short one but included favorite “Glamour Boys” and a cover of “Nothing Compares 2 u” , but of course ended with their signature hit “Cult of Personality”. Too short to really showcase Vernon Reid’s guitar skills, but nevertheless it was an amazing rock show that had the packed place wanting for more.A short break before the headliner for everyone to grab another beverage and stop by the facilities to dispel the previous one.

Both backdrop and drum head were embellished with the snarling face of a silver-back gorilla, while the speakers blared a song from the score of 1976’s King Kong. The lights went out and the crowd erupted as Nuno & company appeared from behind the curtain, taring (fittingly) into ‘It’s A Monster’. I use “fittingly” not only for the ape face glaring at the crowd, but more for the animal like energy the four piece band from Boston exuded for the next 2 hours. The 62 year old lead singer Gary Cherone’s energetic showmanship is astounding to watch. The sharp dressed front-man is obviously heavily influenced by the likes of Steven Tyler and Freddie Mercury. His voice is very dynamic and he can still find those higher notes, extra impressive when you consider the amount of running around he does for the entire set. Original member, Pat Badger on bass and Kevin Figueiredo on drums were solid as a rock, aptly holding down the bottom end for the 20 plus song set. But it was obvious by the periodic chants of Nuno, that the majority of the congregation was there to witness the guitar wizardry of Nuno Bettencourt. With his slender build, long straight dark brown locks wisping about his almost equine reminiscent visage. His unique, exotic appearance alone would draw attention. But when you put a guitar in his mitts, he becomes otherworldly. From the alliterative “Decadence Dance” and “Hole Hearted”, to the crowd pleasing singalongs “More than Words” and show ending “Get the Funk Out”, the Bean Town boys didn’t slow down. Well, they may have gotten a breather during the enchanting and mesmerizing instrumental “Midnight Express”. The Nuno composition that he beats, strums, plucks, hammers and licks on acoustic guitar, is jaw-dropping. As is the flamenco influenced “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee”.

Other than the 4 or 5 people that had to be helped to the exit, the capacity crowd stayed put for the entire Extreme extravaganza. These four gentlemen, while in the late 50’s and early 60’s, showed absolutely no signs of slowing down. Hell, they may have even extended the middle-aged standard a decade or two. If you get the opportunity to see them live, please do so, they live up to their moniker.