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Oslo, Norway - 10/11/03 concert review
LIVING COLOUR / Cosmopolite, Oslo / 11. Oct. 2003
by: PER OLAV HEIMSTAD
Never being given a chance to be at a Living Colour-concert the last time they were around, from the late 80’s till 1995, I am now happy to say that I’ve just witnessed this very unique quartet playing live.
With their marvelous debut album Vivid (1988) they right away got the whole world’s attention. Back then they filled a hole in rock music. The party ended in 1995, but now, eight years later, they are back with a brand new album Collideøscope (check out our review in the reviews section), and they are back on the road.
Their Oslo gig was their last show in a three week long European tour before the band heads for the States.
The concert took place in a concert hall in Oslo named Cosmopolite. Not a whole lot of hard rock bands play there, and the arrangers certainly didn’t have much experience with advertising. Just a few hundred showed up, which is a shame. So many people remembers classic Living Colour tunes like «Glamour Boys», «Cult of Personality» and «Love rears its ugly Head» that if they’d knew about the happening the band would have got a more proper goodbye-show on their last European night.
Living Colour is not back in the tracks for easy money. They are not here to play old hits only. Even though playing the great “Memories can’t wait” ( from the debut Vivid ) early in the set further memories HAD TO wait as the first part of the concert was coloured with numbers like «Song without Sin», «In your Name», «A ? of when» and «Operation Mind Control», all from their September release Collideøscope. The first two of them are strong tracks whom stands out on the album, and especially «In your Name» worked out very well live with it’s punching «Get Together»-ish ( Beatles song... ) beat. The two latter are far from Living Colour at their best, though singer Corey Glover and the rest of the guys were working hard. Still they couldn’t avoid the audience from slipping into a kind of restless boredom.
«Time’s up» from their second album with the same name gave new life to the crowd, making everyone present cheer for guitarist Vernon Reid playing his weird weird solos. No one in rock plays as odd as that guy. Still the man looked worryingly uninspired, or tired, or... whatever... never really communicating with the audience. Hopefully it wasn’t three little weeks of touring that drained the man for enthusiasm.
Dough Wimbish, who replaced Muzz Skillings on the bass after the bands two first albums, did the best job this night. He tied the band together and actually looked like he was having fun. As well he worked hard on some lap top by his side, producing sound effects along the way. Drummer William Calhoun took off as well as the band entered «Sacred Ground», another new track, working beautifully live, being kicked in the ass by Calhoun all the way trough...
The whole band is so very very clever, being excellent musicians from whom quite a few has got a lot to learn. Still, on nights like these one can also learn that it doesn’t really matter how clever the musicians are if the audience ain’t familiar to the songs. Living Colour’s last album certainly is good, but not exceptional, and it sure is new. Not a lot of the people present knew the new stuff very well. Living Colour played more than half of the new album’s tracks, which confused the audience a bit. Though, people has themselves to blame for not getting to know the new release. One can’t expect any comeback band to play nothing but old hits. Songs do sound better live if you know them from before. Fact of life.
In the last section of the main set the band made a brilliant performance of «Middle Man», one of living Colours «signature songs», really stating what’s so special about this band. It rocks, it lifts you up, it funks you right in your face.
Endswards the band played their recently recorded cover version of the Beatles classic «Tomorrow never knows», making it a long-lasting jazzy piece which went on and on above people’s heads... Then they turned to their big hits «Love rears its ugly Head» and «Cult of Personality» followed by an acoustic version of their debut album’s lesser known «Broken Heart» with a Vernon Reid on vocals that suffered from not remembering the lyrics very well. However, this made the guitarist smile for the first time, and therefore made his difficulties with the words all pay off.
Reid kept on smiling through the shows two last extras, the excellent «Solace of you» and another of their big hits «Glamour Boys». At this point it seemed like the whole band were given extra strength, stretching the blues-reggae version (!) of the last song mentioned into an atmospheric closure of the gig that proved the band to be one of the most interesting comeback acts for years.
In November and December the band will find themselves touring the States ( partly with King Crimson ). You really should be finding them there as well if you happen to be around. However, before you eventually do, remember to check out their last album. Living Colour expects you to.