Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Chicago Park West : Living Colour Setlist

Memories Can't Wait
Funny Vibe
Song Without Sin
A ? Of When
Operation Mind Control
Ignorance Is Bliss
In Your Name
Middle Man
Love Rears It's Ugly Head
Times Up!
Cult Of Personality
Tomorrow Never Knows
This Is The Life (radically changed!)

Chicago Tribune Review
Living Colour flying in rare air

By Blair R. Fischer
Special to the Tribune
Published December 4, 2003

When Living Colour emerged out of New York's Bowery 15 years ago, the funk-rock troupe was something of an anomaly.

Drowning out the death rattle of glam metal and flouting the dawn of grunge, the African-American quartet earned props--and the coveted opening slot on The Rolling Stones' "Steel Wheels" tour--with a fresh melange of jerky rhythms, Vernon Reid's virtuoso guitar work and frontman Corey Glover's caustic, sociopolitical lyrics.

Living Colour took on greed ("Glamour Boys"), gentrification ("Open Letter [to a Landlord]") and racism ("Funny Vibe") with flare and originality. Then they did something completely unoriginal: Citing constant infighting, they broke up without fanfare two years after the release of 1993's "Stain."

After solo careers from Reid and Glover stalled, the group reunited and toured in 2001.

Another sojourn without a new album would have officially landed Living Colour on the pathetic nostalgia circuit so the band, rounded out by bassist Doug Wimbish and drummer Will Calhoun, released "Collideoscope" in October. As if time stood still, the album packs wallop with its aggressive sonic bursts and acute perspective on a post-9/11 society in flux.

Tuesday night at the Park West, in front of an almost entirely white audience, it was "Flying," a new song written from the perspective of someone choosing the asphalt over flames inside the World Trade Center, that secured Living Colour's relevance in the new millennium. As poignant as Bruce Springsteen's "Empty Sky," Glover, sporting a blond`fro, closed his eyes as he sang the chilling refrain ("I jumped out the window to get to the parking lot").

"A ? of When," another new song about our nation's psyche in the aftermath of 9/11, seemed a bit obvious ("Not a question of if/But a question of when"), although "In Your Name" was a timely swipe at the Bush regime ("We are hurting you to heal you").

Throughout the 70-minute show, Living Colour vacillated between free- form funk-jazz odysseys "Memories," "Tomorrow Never Knows") and disciplined fury ("Time's Up," "Middle Man").

"Time's Up" featured furious, Metallica-size rhythms courtesy of Calhoun, and a blistering solo from Reid. Reid was equally deft bringing the funk on the shambling "Love Rears its Ugly Head."

Other stellar moments came with the anesthetizing "Nothingness" and hyper "Funny Vibe." Living Colour's biggest hit "Cult of Personality" should have brought down the roof, but Reid's killer riff was muffled and the group's delivery seem hurried.

Oddly, the band ignored a slew of minor hits ("Glamour Boys," "Open Letter [to a Landlord]," and "Leave It Alone," among them) that should have added at least 20 minutes to a short set.

Living Colour easily could have truncated their one-song encore, a cover of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." The song set out on the right path but slowly atrophied into a lethargic stoner jam that just sort of ended, thus ending the show. Living Colour never did know how to say goodbye.

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