Nuno Bettencourt has been tearing it up with Extreme on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and doing things at sea that surely contravene maritime law, because there’s surely no way you can drop something as hot as the solo to Rise live on a ship and then leave this vessel seaworthy. But he has, and it is a potentially historic moment for electric guitar.
How will people talk about this maiden performance of Rise in the years to come? Will the excitement be lost in the shuffle or is this the sort of moment that will be searched out and bookmarked for reference like those 1978 performances of Eruption when Eddie Van Halen opened the door for this style of super-expressive, high-performance rock guitar?
No one can say. Our 24/7 always-on media environment makes it harder for epoch-defining moments to take hold. What is for sure is that Rise is the guitar solo of 2023 (the track itself has had 2.5 million views in two months) at least until the rest of the world hears the new Extreme album, Six.
There is a strong argument that it is not even the best solo on the album – a position that Bettencourt himself agrees with – but it has been a long time since a piece of guitar playing has stopped the world like that, with Rick Beato shooting a special episode to break down what Bettencourt is up to on that solo.
- Nuno Bettencourt explains his secret to playing difficult guitar solos… it involves getting his leg up
So many ears and eyeballs have been on Rise that its every secret is out, Even when YouTuber Mike G from The Art Of Guitar identified – correctly – that Bettencourt had accidentally referenced a Kesha melody in the song, the solo, in its perfect dynamics, remains undiminished. “I fell off my fucking seat!” said Bettencourt. “He nailed it. It is exactly what it is. Not that I took it from there but, holy fuck, it is a Kesha fucking hook. I couldn’t believe it. It is [all] pop, man.”
That Kesha reference really tickled Bettencourt. What really got his attention was the messages he was getting from his peers. These weren’t the usual “good job” texts – “like we’re supposed to say to each other! – but long messages. “No, you don’t understand…” People were blown away, and Bettencourt has a theory that makes sense when you watch the Rise promo video and then that performance on the high seas on the Monsters of Rock Cruise.
“It’s a decent song and a decent solo,” said Bettencourt, when discussing the reaction to the track for a forthcoming MusicRadar feature about Extreme’s return, a conversation in which he talks tone, production and explains why rock songs are just nursery rhymes for adults . What makes it is you are seeing is a performance, not just from him but from the band. That’s the difference.
“There is someone playing guitar but it’s not just technical,” he said. “It’s emotional. It’s physical. It’s watching somebody in a band, in the middle of a song, with harmonies and vocals and lyrics, and arrangements, and a bridge – and, by the way, all-in, passionately. That to me is the recipe for making people excited again.”
Extreme’s new album, Six, is out on 9 June via earMusic. And check out his Monsters of Rock Cruise performance above.