Thursday, July 14, 2005

Colourful Comeback (summerfest review)

Rock fans may not have been clamoring for a Living Colour reunion with the same fervor as they were for, say, a Motley Crue reunion. But the New York City-based quartet—which quietly got back together in 2001 after a six-year absence—marked its first Summerfest appearance by closing the curtain on the Mountain Dew Rock Stage Sunday night, managing to sound more vital and relevant than most current rockers.

Relying on its unconventional blend of socially conscious funk, punk and metal, Living Colour infused almost half of its loud and raw 15-song set with music from its classic 1988 debut Vivid, including show opener “Memories Can’t Wait,” “Open Letter (To A Landlord)” and the smash single “Cult of Personality.” Three songs from the band’s 2003 studio album, CollideØscope, fit in well with the earlier material.

Singer Corey Glover’s voice still hits the high notes but also delves deeper for the occasional death-metal growl. Wearing a short, orange Afro and a military-fatigues jumpsuit—he later got overheated and shed the top portion after humorously acknowledging that he “completely overdressed for this gig”—Glover demonstrated he hasn’t gained any greater sense of fashion since he wore a fluorescent green bodysuit for the “Cult of Personality” video. Guitarist Vernon Reid, meanwhile, proved the chops that helped make Vivid such a memorable musical statement were no fluke. At Summerfest, he often channeled Jimi Hendrix, making his guitar squeal and cry, and punctuating his performance with a soulful and stabbing solo on “Flying,” a CollideØscope track that was the night’s most mellow, moody and melodic song. Reid dedicated it to people who are “being killed unnecessarily” all over the world—a fitting tribute from a band that still cares about such things.
—Michael Popke

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