Queen 2 The Extreme

Two nights in a row of one of my all time favorite bands, and possibly still not the highlight of the weekend.

We saw Queen + Paul Rodgers Thursday in DC, and Friday in Worcester (near Boston). It was interesting to compare the two shows, since I thought they were very similar but the band thought the second night “was perhaps our best QPR show EVER …. fantastic buzz, great sound, and there seemed to TIME to make everything hit the button” (from Brian’s soapbox).

The show we saw in October in New Jersey, while it was one of my favorites, had over 20 years of anticipation tied in with the adrenaline of being so close, so it was impossible to judge the performance on it’s own merits. We were a little farther away both nights, DC about 5 rows up on the side from the begining of the catwalk, and Worcester about 5 rows up on the side from slightly before the end of the catwalk. We missed the first song in DC (they started on time, and I’d read they’d been going on as much as 40 minutes late – my bad). Both nights had very similar setlists (they dropped “’39” and moved “Can’t Get Enough” for the second night), but I still came away extremely impressed at their musicianship and stamina (especially after Brian fell into the piano pit the first night as Paul’s piano was coming up, and never displayed any ill effects).

I won’t go on at length (well, anymore that what I have done), since I went on at such a length in October, but I honestly think they’ve gotten better. All three of them were already great at their own material, but have gotten even better on the songs that were new to them before performing together. I was on quite a high after those two shows, but they didn’t throw in any surprises that made me go crazy (though I was pleased they added “I Want To Break Free”, after not playing it since the European tour last spring). The new song, “Take Love”, is a Paul Rodgers song, and it wasn’t bad, just didn’t have a Queen feel to it.

The next night had a thrill, though. Another of my favorite bands is Extreme. They broke up in 1996, but I still follow Gary Cherone(although I don’t think the Van Halen move worked all that well). He often plays in the Boston area since he lives there, but I rarely get the opportunity to see him (I did go to see him in “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 2000). But he was doing an acoustic set at the Sky Bar in Somerville on Saturday.

Chris and Jess and I got there just before the doors were supposed to open at 8, and they let people in around quarter after. Sky Bar was nice, reminded me of a smaller version of Iota in Virginia. We waited through some loud opening music, and Gary came out by himself with an acoustic guitar for two songs, including a nice cover of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”. Then Paul Mangone came out and Gary moved to vocals (and I was totally unaware Paul was Extreme’s first bassist). Paul said Gary was nervous earlier, funny to think of that happening when he’s played for so many people. The new songs were good, but it’s tough for me to really enjoy something I’m hearing the first time – I’m focusing too much on just figuring it out. “Need I Say More” was great, I was a little surprised that was the only song from the new EP.

I saw Extreme 3 times, and they’d only once done one verse of one of my favorite songs, “Tragic Comic”. To be honest, when I planned on going to the show, I thought to myself it’d be great if he did “Tragic Comic”, but I wasn’t expecting it, even when Dana Spellman came out to play drums and Gary said “We first played this in the basement here”. But the acoustic riff was unmistakable and it was great, especially the crowd singing along. Gary and Dana left the stage and Paul performed “A Prayer To St. Peter”, a moving tribute to our soldiers.

Unfortunately Jess is 7 months pregnant and hanging out in a bar was not the best environment for her, so we left after Gary’s set, but I felt I got my money’s worth. I’ve been on a high since. Got one decent picture from my camera phone. I did see someone videotaping, hope that makes it out at some point.