By Kimberly Mack
Some things never change. Living Colour has always been an exceptional live band and on this night they powered their way through an intense, 90-minute set featuring their trademark mélange of jazz, funk, blues, reggae and electronica - expertly wrapped up in a blistering hard rock ribbon.
The band had enormous success in the late 1980s and early '90s, but its demise in 1995 left a void not only on the black rock scene, but also in the hard rock genre as a whole. Living Colour's reunion in December 2000, and their subsequent series of mini-tours, found the group in surprisingly good musical form, and paved the way for Collideoscope, their first studio album in a decade.
Living Colour mainly performed songs from the new album, but they included a sprinkling of older songs. Highlights included "Sacred Ground," from Collideoscope, a straight-up metal (read: loud), headbanger's dream featuring a thick, sludgy guitar riff by guitarist Vernon Reid, and singer Corey Glover's impassioned, take-us-back-to-church vocals. It also highlighted the talents of bassist Doug Wimbish who, with all of his toys and gadgets, is one of the most interesting and innovative bass players around. Drummer Will Calhoun also had a fantastic drum solo during that song's protracted jam.
The evocative ballad, "Flying," also from Collideoscope, sung from the point of view of a man who leaps out of a World Trade Center window on September 11, was moving and Reid absolutely tore up the guitar solo. There were many such moments where the audience stood in awe while Reid went off on one of his rapid-fire, million-notes-a-minute solo excursions. A raucous cover of AC/DC's "Back in Black" complete with a falsetto by Glover that Robert Plant might have had trouble hitting in his prime, was also great fun.
By the time Living Colour got around to playing the frenzied hardcore tune, "Time's Up," from the album of the same name, a small mosh pit had materialized in front of the stage, in sharp contrast to the largely thirty- and fortysomething audience. After the band ran through "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" and "Type," also from Time's Up, and then finally "Cult of Personality" from 1988's Vivid, both band and audience were utterly and happily spent.