The last time I saw Living Colour was a clip of them performing on the Arsenio Hall Show. They played “Cult of Personality” and tore down the house. Arsenio was elated. This was the late ’80s. Fast forward to 2013 and the band is touring the U.S., celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Vivid.
Thankfully, lead singer Corey Glover has abandoned wearing Body Glove wetsuits onstage. I guess in the era of spandex hair-metal excess, this was viewed as some sort of meaningful compromise. These days the band looks more like a group of grad students than a hard-rock outfit, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they still don’t deliver the r-o-c-k. A couple songs into the set, they launched into “Cult of Personality” and had the audience singing and hopping along. Twenty-five years later this song still packs a punch live. The majority of those in attendance seemed to remember the other singles from the era, “Open Letter (to a Landlord)” and “Glamour Boys,” which received enthusiastic responses.
Throughout the set, guitarist Vernon Reid mesmerized me. He is still one of the most gifted guitarists you can catch live. His mastery of his instrument was displayed on the prog-rock exercise “Funny Vibe,” which hops genres so effortlessly that you wonder if there’s anything this guy can’t play.
Reid may be the heart of the band, but drummer Will Calhoun still serves as the group’s backbone. After they had finished the main Vivid set, Calhoun received his own showcase, treating the crowd to a nearly extinct rock-show trick: the extended drum solo. After this, the rest of the boys came back onstage to perform a handful of songs from Stain, which Glover noted was celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
And just when we thought this group of ’80s vets were all rocked out, they strolled back onstage for the seldom-seen second encore and performed a blistering rendition of the title track from their 1990 album, Time’s Up.
- Concert: Living Colour
- Date: March 29
- Venue: Belly Up
- Seats: Floor