Friday, September 04, 2009

Phillyist Rewind: Living Colour at World Cafe Live

You heard it here first: Living Colour has restored my faith in the Church of Rock.

They absolutely killed it last night, shaking the World Cafe Live to the core and sending the crowd—largely comatose before they hit the stage—into a metal-infused frenzy. Living Colour quenched our thirst for rock in a way that only a band with their dimension can do. Never letting themselves be shackled by mainstream conventions, the band played without fear and inhibition, unleashing a torrent of fierce vocals, skillfully aggressive guitar riffs and funky slap bass that merged into an intricate yet uncomplicated good time onstage.

I don't know where to begin. Perhaps I'll start with this: someone please call the cops and arrest Cee-Lo for identity theft. Cee-Lo, we've been a fan of your since Goodie Mob, and you filled a void while frontman Corey Glover was off doing other projects, but sorry, he's just more talented than you are.

While we assumed the Living Colour rhythm section would still bring it, Glover's energy on the mic was probably the biggest surprise of the night. I simply don't have the words to describe his vocal range. Pssh, and I thought Raine Maida had range. Please forgive me for my sins. Last night, Glover was at times soulful, at times meaningful, and other times flat-out ferocious. His voice is part Steven Tyler (before he was a walking wax sculpture), part David Draiman, part James Brown, part... Christ, I give up. His vocal cords are simply not of this world. I never thought a human being could produce that sort of musical range. And to top it all off, Glover looked like he was having the time of his life onstage, joking with guitarist and band founder Vernon Reid and wrapping his arm around bassist Doug Wimbish. Even as the band ripped into "Cult of Personality," the signature song they have surely played thousands of times before, Glover did so with a big smile on his face, clearly excited to be back on stage with his bandmates, which we know is where he belonged the whole time.

But Glover was not the only star of the night—the rest of the band showcased its jaw-dropping talent as well. Reid was, as he always has been, the humble star of the evening, parked in the corner of the stage and delivering incredible riffs with ease. Reid is the fuel that feeds the fire of rock, delivering song after song that punished our necks. No joke, the crowd was straight-up head banging, and loving every minute of it. Though no one loved it more than one guy at the front of the crowd who looked like the spitting image of Eddie Vedder in the "Even Flow" video (seriously, the t-shirt, the shoes, the hair... everything). His hair provided cushion while the rest of us got whiplash. On gripping loud metal songs like "Elvis is Dead," we were simply helpless against Reid's powers.

The most surprising twist of the evening was definitely the 53-year old Wimbish jumping into the audience during a solo. His tall figure was quickly swallowed by the crowd as everyone surrounded him, almost as if hoping some of his mojo would rub off on us. He played the bass on his knees, with his teeth, swinging his long braids with every ebb and flow of the song. Finally, he grabbed an audience member's bottle of Hop Devil and started playing with that before getting back onstage.

In addition to well-known songs like "Elvis," "Personality," and "Type," the band played numerous tracks from its upcoming album, The Chair in the Doorway, to which they bring the same intensity and rock power that they did with their previous albums. The songs are relentless, and sometimes poignant, as is the case with the first single, "Behind the Sun," which is a tribute to those who lost their lives and homes in Hurricane Katrina. We don't know if the energy they bring to the stage will carry over into the studio recordings, but we know that this is one album we will definitely buy.


Kirill said...

A breathtaking review! I envy you, though have just been to Patronaat show in Haarlem, NL.

MikeG said...

Excellent and (since I was there too) very accurate review. Can't wait for Chair in the Doorway.