Apologies, I know this is really, really late but here finally is my review of the amazing Living Colour show from a few weeks back. There has been a lot of sadness and grief of late so it has been great to re-live a fantastic evening while pulling this together.
There was a massive buzz and sense of expectation among the capacity crowd at the Gov that was evident from the second we walked in, and no-one left disappointed as the headliners delivered in spades.
The suitably, if not subtly, named Melbourne foursome Massive did their bit by getting the evening off to a flyer with their cranking hard/heavy rock. While they are full of the same blokey Australian larrikinism as the likes of Airbourne, musically they probably have more in common with Electric Mary and even Black Stone Cherry with some nice blues licks and just a dash of soul simmering beneath all the boozy, blokey bluster. The boys are now heading back to Europe for a tour which will be highlighted by a support slot for the reformed Rainbow at the O2 Arena. So good on them.
After a short interval the four gentlemen of Living Colour strolled on to the stage one by one and each to a rapturous reception. (Four of the coolest gentlemen you would ever wish to see too, guitarist Vernon Reid even managed to make a dodgy checked bucket hat appear the height of sartorial elegance) They kicked off with an old Robert Johnson standard ‘Preachin’ Blues’s which Reid absolutely tore up and provided an early opportunity for powerhouse singer Corey Glover to demonstrate that he has lost absolutely none of his extraordinary vocal talents.
The lumbering, relentless Wall followed before ferocious run throughs of Middle Man and Desperate People from their debut album ‘Time’s Up’. Hard to believe it is nearly thirty years since that iconic album was released. A decidedly unhinged Mind Your Own Business (allegedly not played since some time in 1990s) maintained the frenetic pace before Ignorance is Bliss slowed things down slightly and temporarily. Then it was time for a couple of new songs, accompanied by the good news that a new album is in the works and expected to be released in September. The first was a cover of Notorious B.I.G.’s Who Shot Ya? which was heavy, funky and full of righteous rage, while the all-new Who’s That grooved along in a fine bluesy style.
More old favourites dominated the second half of the main set, highlighted by Nothingness, Love Rears its Ugly Head (which had the crowd singing along with gusto) and a very amusing Elvis is Dead that included a quick hip-shaking burst of the great man’s Hound Dog. But two particular highlights were (believe it or not) the extended bass and drum solos by Doug Wimbish and Will Calhoun respectively. Wimbish held everyone entranced with his amazing dexterity and skills, as he created soaring (and most un-bass-like) sounds and melodies. Calhoun’s solo began as most drum solos do, but was elevated into something truly memorable by his innovative use of effects and electronic percussion.
A timely and ferocious version of Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans preceded the inevitable Cult of Personality which brought the main set to a close. Within minutes the quartet had returned for a most extraordinary encore that began with Time’s Up before seguing into a lengthy run-through of James Brown’s Sex Machine (complete with enthusiastic chants of ‘Get on Up!’ from the crowd). This was followed by a roaring, riff-heavy work-over of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love to bring a two-and-a-half hour set to a thundering close. An amazing performance by amazing musicians with amazing chemistry. They also proved themselves to be great blokes by immediately making their way through the crowd to the merch table to talk with as many happy punters as they could.