There’s a few bands I wish I had seen back in the day, at the height of their creative peak. There is also plenty that I know I have truly missed the boat seeing in a live setting. Up until 3 months ago, NYC Funk-Metal legends ‘Living Colour’ was one of those band that were part of the latter. I thought that ship had sailed. Then Australia and New Zealand get word of a ‘Vivid’ 30 year anniversary tour. Of course, I had to be there!
Venturing to Brisbane’s best intimate live venue, The Triffid, for what would be the bands 3rd last date on this tour, I was very keen to witness this legendary act and especially the guitar wizardry of Vernon Reid and vocal chops of Corey Glover. Notwithstanding the immense talents of drummer Wil Calhoun and bassist Doug Wimbish. I had heard great things!
By the time the band hit the stage at 9.50pm, the Triffid was packed with an audience ripe with anticipation. Needless to say the crowd clearly knew who they were here to see – their age was obvious and like the band (also in their 50’s/60’s) this was going to a big night of nostalgia. With a 2 hour set focusing on 90% of the entire ‘Vivid’ album of ’88, throw in some highlights from ‘Times Up (’90)’ and ‘Stain (’93)’, this was all about the bands legacy. And boy did they deliver. Actually, they blew me away with their professionalism, tightness and energy. Easily above and beyond my lofty expectations. For the record, only one track – ‘Come On’ was featured from 2017’s Shade album – an album that Glover cheekily accused the audience of lying to him when they responded that they knew it! Funny guy!
Speaking of Corey Glover. Still got pipes? Lord, you bet! At 54, I cannot believe the quality of Glover’s vocal delivery. His range, his power and soulful conviction was a sight to behold, commanding the stage with a stately presence as he tore through classics such as ‘Middle Man, Funny Vibe, Memories Can’t Wait, Cult of Personality and the astounding ‘This is the Life’. Incredible performance.
Then we have Vernon Reid. Now 60, I knew this guy was ridiculous on the axe, but in the flesh, wow, he’s just on another planet, really! Innovative and incredibly dextrous, Reid’s ability to command the riff whilst employing his unique inflections within the thread of his playing is astounding. He was simply ON all night, but it is his manic, chaotic solo work that is truly jaw dropping. Using his characteristic hook-wristed style, he shredded a 2-3 minute solo in the middle of ‘This is the Life’ that defied description. I commented to a mate who was with me that most of his work could not be repeated or transcribed in tablature form. It’s a one off piece – a Miles Davis jazz-like improvisation. Reid is a phenomenon – truly a one of a kind player. Utterly respected by all in the game!
Living Colour are a real band in the sense that all 4 members are needed to pull of their work. This is why Wimbish and Calhoun are just as important. Doug Wimbish was brilliant all night, especially during his bass solo which is possibly one of the best I’ve ever witnessed – Dedicating it to the bands families that they leave behind when on tour, he used a menagerie of effect pedals, loops that weaved in and out of with incredible feel and emotion. As for Calhoun, well his mastery goes without saying – powerful and the absolute driver of the back beat! He also entertained the crowd with a less than typical drum solo that saw him move away from his kit to the use of electronic tom-toms and a pedal board which ended with him (adorned in an Aussie indigenous flag T-shirt) walking to front of stage and singing the line ‘Time has come…’ to which the crowd immediately recognised as the verse line from Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds are Burning’. Wil ended his solo work with the crowd shouting ‘Let’s give it back” from said Oil’s tune and flashing a mighty peace sign! Utter. Legend!
Living Colour were truly impressed with the knowledgeable reception they given this night. The banter between themselves and the crowd was extremely positive, light and humorous. They are clearly grateful of the opportunity that their back catalogue has afforded them. Easily one of the best gigs I have witnessed in some time, I can’t recommend getting along to see them when they hit your city! Magnificent! What’s your favourite colour baby? Living Colour!!
Open Letter (To a Landlord)
Ignorance Is Bliss
Memories Can’t Wait (Talking Heads cover)
This Is the Life
Love Rears Its Ugly Head
Type / Which Way To America
Cult of Personality
Time’s Up / Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine / What’s Your Favorite Colour