Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Fan Review of Living Colour in Dallas, TX - 5/30/04
Thanks Zack!

Living Colour were 3rd on a 4 band bill, and in a slightly unusual
setting: this was an anniversary party for Dallas radio station
105.3, which is actually a talk radio station. It was an outdoor
venue that could probably have held 20,000 or more if packed, but
I would guess there were closer to 3,000 here to see Little
Morphine Annie, Back In Black, Living Colour and former Motley
Crue frontman, Vince Neil.

Little Morphine Annie, a hard-rockin’, female-fronted 4-piece band
were first, but did nothing to distinguish themselves in my book,
so I’ll leave it at that.

An AC/DC tribute band called “Back In Black” was next, and kicked
off their set with the opening tolls of “Hell’s Bells”. The band
did a solid job of replicating the AC/DC sound and their singer
did a surprisingly good job of duplicating both Brian Johnson’s
voice and Bon Scott’s as well through songs like “Highway To
Hell,” “Shoot To Thrill,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Whole
Lotta Rosie” and more. The lead guitarist as Angus Young and
lead vocalist as both Johnson and Scott even did their best to
look the parts they played, so all in all I’d say if you need an
AC/DC fix while they’re between tours, this is an act to see.

After a short break, Will Calhoun led the Living Colour charge as
he took to the stage to fine tune the settings on his relatively
stripped-down white Sonor drum kit. Bassist Doug Wimbish joined
him for a few minutes to check out his massive bass rig and make a
few last minute adjustments.

Moments later, the 105.3 staff took to the stage for some
announcements, which were interrupted by cat-calls of “show us
your t*ts!” to their female DJ (more on that later!). They
eventually got around to introducing the return of Living Colour
as guitarist Vernon Reid let loose the opening riff of “Middle
Man”.

Reid stood stage right dressed in fatigue-style pants, a green
camouflage t-shirt and a straw cowboy hat with both the front and
rear tucked down, which he used to virtually hide behind much of
the night. As the drums kicked in, on charged Corey, dressed in a
head-to-toe orange outfit that had him looking something like a
cross between a state prisoner and a sanitation worker, but then,
Living Colour is not about fashion…

It’s hard to say whether it was the smallish crowd, most of which
seemed to be there to see headliner Vince Neil, or if perhaps the
Texas heat played a role, but “Middle Man” was the first of
several songs to suffer at least a little from a slightly reduced
tempo compared to the recorded version. Not to say it sounded
bad, but the band chugged rather than ripped through this number.

Next up was “Funny Vibe,” which saw the band picking up steam,
fueled by the one-of a-kind power and precision of drummer Will
Calhoun. Afterwards, Corey Glover welcomed the audience and
announced, “By the way, I have great breasts,” a reference to the
crowd’s catcalls to the 105.3 dj moments earlier. With that, a
few dollar bills came his way, a couple of which were nabbed by
security and delivered to Corey. With that, he dutifully lifted
his shirt to give to give his admirers a peak of what they paid
for as the band churned through “Memories Can’t Wait,” another
song that sounded solid, but a bit off the tempo of the studio
version.

Next up was “Leave It Alone,” the lone song to feature from Living
Colour’s 1993 album, “Stain”, and the best song of the night so
far. More playful (or drunk?) fans continued throwing bills at
Corey, a few of which did not appear to be $1’s, which Corey
collected and even stopped mid-song to announce, “Shoot, I’m
getting PAID at this gig!”, which gave the lyric, “I don’t plan to
make this a career,” a whole new meaning…

The middle portion of the set featured three songs in a row from
the new album, “Collideoscope,” starting with “? Of When”. Corey
Glover was clearly into the song and physically tried to pull
Vernon Reid out of his statuesque pose off to stage right to get
some interplay going, but only managed to get Reid two steps to
the middle before Vernon broke free and wandered back to his
comfortable position off to stage right. Corey strained to reach
some of the higher notes during this song, which was another that
was slower than the album version, but it was well-received and
the band finished strong before launching into “In Your Name.”
The drum and other effects of this song make it a difficult one to
do live, but the band pulled it off and made this one of the best
songs of the night. On this and the earlier “Leave It Alone,”
bassist Doug Wimbish had ample opportunity to showcase not only
his bass playing abilities, but his knack for creating other
sounds that, well, you just do NOT hear from other bass players!
All due respect to original bass-player Muzz Skillings, a very
talented player in his own right, but Doug Wimbish proved himself
an upgrade over and over on this night, which earned him his own
cheering section off to his side of the stage.

Next up was “Flying,” a definite standout cut from the new album,
but another one that seemed a couple of notches slower than the
recorded version on “Collideoscope”. This particular song didn’t
suffer though as the reduced tempo only provided more space for
Reid to showcase his tasteful solos and for the rhythm section of
Calhoun and Wimbish to play with the groove, which they did plenty
of.

Next was more material from the debut album, starting with an
extended and extra soulful “Open Letter (to a landlord” which
seemed a welcome return to more familiar ground for some of the
more casual fans. The more commercial sounds continued with the
r&b flavored “Love Rears Its Ugly Head,” the only song to feature
from 1990’s “Time’s Up” cd.

At this point, Corey called out a thanks to the crowd and said
they were going to do “one more and out!” which was followed by
Reid’s lone comments of the evening, who addressed the crowd to
remind everyone the purpose of the Memorial Day weekend, which was
of course to remember both the living and dead war veterans. He
closed by saying the last song was in particular for some friends
of his, which I believe he said was the “61st airborne battalion,”
but don’t quote me on that.

With that, the opening riff of “Cult of Personality” sent even the
Vince Neil faithful into a frenzy as the band showed no signs of
being tired of this classic. Corey led the crowd on the call and
response of the last chorus as the song wound down.

Unfortunately, as promised, this was the last song, capping an
abbreviated 10-song set without an encore. Nevertheless, this was
a strong performance well worth my 3-hr drive from Austin.
Despite a few of the songs sounding a bit slower than I’ve heard
them in the past, let me just say that the beauty of Living Colour
is that even on a slightly “off” night with an abbreviated set in
front of fans mostly not familiar with anything other than their
radio hits, Living Colour still delivered far more than most bands
could even aspire to.

As an added bonus, I wandered stage right immediately after the
show and saw Vernon Reid backstage, seemingly with one woman on
each knee as he soaked in the post-gig relaxation and took it
easy. He never looked my way so I could get his attention (go
figure!), but drummer Will Calhoun was gracious enough to let me
interrupt the packing of his drum kit for a handshake and a brief
chat during which he signed my cd copy of “Collideoscope”. Thanks
Will, and also to the LC blog for alerting me to this gig!

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