I can’t believe its been 30 years since I last saw Living Colour perform live. I was a mere slip of a lad when they supported Anthrax on their UK ‘State of Euphoria’ tour in 1989. It seems like only last week, but it reminded me of something a wise man once said, “Time goes fast, sometimes you have to look around or you might miss it”.
Unfortunately tonight I do miss something, the support acts. I’m gutted as one of them is Jared James Nichols and his 2018 record ‘Black Magic’ was a cool mix of rock and blues and he’s destined for big things. Let’s hope he’ll be back in the next 30 years as he is definitely a talented guy.
It’s great to see a band of Living Colour’s standing playing in Norwich as so many others seem reluctant to come and visit this neck of the woods. The tour is based around celebrating the 1988 release of their debut record ‘Vivid’ and the majority of their set save for a few extras including the wonderful opener ‘Wall’ from 1993 album ‘Stain’ is made up of that album.
If you’ve never heard it, you should. Vivid is a visceral slice of rock with shades of Led Zep, Hendrix with tinges of gospel, jazz and soul too. As young, articulate black men they challenged the tribal preconceptions of late 80’s rock and lyrically they sang about real things too; bouncing between tales of housing gentrification (Open Letter (To a Landlord)) to connections between Celebrity and Politics (Cult of Personality), topics that in the world of Donald Trump are ironically more relevant today than ever.
It wasn’t all serious though, there was a fun Calypso swing to ‘Glamour boys’ and ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ was funky, fierce and freaky, crossing genres without even realising it or caring.
This is the first night of Living Colours UK tour and there’s just a sense they are still finding their sea legs. In the middle, Corey Glover’s voice is as strong as it’s ever been and Bass legend Doug Wimbish competes with guitarist Vernon Reid as to whom can use the most guitar effects pedals in one song (I think Doug wins).
Meanwhile, Drummer Will Calhoun jams with himself triggering sound loops and remixing the songs in real-time when he gets the urge. All four have reputations beyond Living Colour as tour de forces in their own right and despite blowing off cobwebs, tonight they are a still something of a powerhouse live.
I guess the main difference between tonight and the show I saw 30 years ago is that the band, while still delivering the same sonic booms are a little less animated on stage this time. I guess it’s not surprising really. At one point towards the end of the set singer Corey Glover shouts ‘We’re getting too old for this!’, hysterically a guy in the crowd shouts back ‘So are we!’. They close the show with probably their biggest commercial hit, ‘Love rears its ugly head’, from ‘Time’s Up’, the follow up to Vivid and they are gone, but not forgotten.
Let’s hope they’ll come back and play that one in full too. Norwich will be ready.
Living Colour are on tour in the UK now, for full dates visit
http://livingcolour.com/tour/ All pics copyright Flob (thanks Mark!)