Rockin’ at Jaxx

Monday’s show was enormous, run well, sold out, and ran late. Last night’s show ran late, but was gloriously sloppy.

Nuno Bettencourt is best known for Extreme, where he was guitarist, cowriter, and backing and duet vocals. Since then, he’s released 4 CDs and an EP of music that’s nothing like Extreme. “More Than Words” only represented 10% of what Extreme put out, but he’s now in a vein of aggressive power pop (think Foo Fighters).

Population 1 (his new band) was supposed to start at 10PM. I got to Jaxx a little after 10, secure in the knowledge we’d be lucky if they went on before 11. Sure enough, Jaxx was running late as usual. I caught all of the Michael Sheppard Group, they were pretty good, but the crowd (such as it was) was there for Nuno.

Jaxx can easily hold several hundred, but last night there was not more than 40 people. At 11:30, Nuno led his band through to the stage. At first they seemed to be going through the motions – it can be easy to go from a band that can fill arenas to playing to a barely there crowd. Of course this is the third band of his, and there was the small matter of a presidential debate and a Yankees/Red Sox playoff game to contend with. A couple songs in, he was bored with the setlist, and started talking to the crowd. He sang “Happy Birthday” to one girl, decided to play a new song, and suddenly they were bringing it on like the club was completely full.

Most of the songs were new, but the audience was made up of die hard fans, and it showed. Shrieks greeted any song he’d played before, going back to the instrumental “Midnight Express” from the Extreme days, to “Nothing But Trouble” off the recent EP. The later the night went, the sloppier the show got. He was bantering with the crowd, people were shouting out songs, and he was the loosest I’ve ever heard. The final show of the regular set was “Exit”, good song with an amazing solo.

Instead of leaving and coming back, he just started taking requests. At one point someone called for “Eruption”, and he played some, then he started “Monkeypaw” and brought anyone up on stage that wanted to play guitar (four took the challenge, the first two pretty good). He and someone from the audience dueted on Aerosmith’s “Toys From The Attic”, then he went further and brought up seven people to sing along on Extereme’s “Get The Funk Out”. He finished with “Gravity”, a great song off his first solo CD, and I went out into the rain well satisfied.