By Ronny Lerner
Funk metal legends Living Colour brought their incredible show to the sold-out 170 Russell in Melbourne on Friday night, and their fans were treated to two hours of musical brilliance.
Between Vernon Reid’s masterful guitar playing, Corey Glover’s incredible vocal range, Doug Wimbish’s crazy antics on the bass and Will Calhoun’s powerful drumming, the fellas reaffirmed their status as one of the best and most unique rock bands on the planet.
Almost 30 years after their debut album ‘Vivid’ was released, the quartet sounded as good as they ever have and defied their age (ranging from 52-60) by putting on a high-energy musical extravaganza that left the crowd begging for more.
Reid showed why he is ranked in the top 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine, with his iconic riffs and solos leaving the crowd mesmerised.
Glover’s vocal cords are essentially another instrument. He quite simply has one of the most underrated voices in rock and displayed his incredible range from his deep, soulful rhymes right up to his ear-piercing falsettos.
The show’s crowning jewel was “Open Letter (To A Landlord)” and Glover played a pivotal role in taking that song to dizzying heights. His full range was on show in this incredible rendition, opening up in gospel style and ending it like a preacher in a church and using the crowd as his choir. It was phenomenal.
Wimbish is a bass player that has to be seen live to be fully appreciated. He almost plays his four-string like a normal guitar and his jaw-dropping skill came to the fore especially in the second song of the night, “Wall”. Later in the show, during his solo, he played with his mouth and a bottle of Jack and Coke he borrowed from a crowd member!
And Calhoun is a master on the skins. He had many highlights on the night, but the standout was his astonishing drum solo which not only saw him use electronic hand drums/bongos but also glow-in-the-dark drum sticks with the lights turned out. It was a memorable sonic/visual experience. So much was going on, he could actually do his own show if he really wanted to.
But as good as the band is at playing music, they’re almost equally as good at comedy and entertainment.
Reid and Glover had a running battle throughout the night where they made out that they couldn’t stand each other and even had a faux “domestic” leading into “Mind Your Own Business”. They would routinely ask the crowd if they could believe that they’ve had to put up with each other for the last 30 years. It generated plenty of laughs and ensured everyone had a smile on their face.
Another highlight of crowd interaction was during “Elvis Is Dead” where Glover used the crowd to convince Reid that ‘The King’ was deceased by allowing them to sing the chorus. Reid would respond each time skeptically and cheekily pointed out that with advances in science, particularly cryogenics, Presley could still be alive somewhere with Walt Disney. It made for fantastic entertainment.
The fellas played around a minute of “You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog” during that song which was great, but Glover admitted he may have injured himself while attempting to thrust his pelvis like the great man Presley.
Quite appropriately, Wimbish asked the crowd to scream out, ‘F*ck Donald Trump’, heading into the fan favourite “Cult Of Personality” which rounded out the main set.
When the show finished, the crowd interaction didn’t stop there. The lucky fans at the front got to hug and embrace Glover and Wimbish and shake hands with Reid.
So it was hardly surprising at the end of the gig when the crowd responded in unison that their favourite colour was “Living Colour” after Glover asked them the famous question, “What’s Your Favourite Color?”
Mind Your Own Business
Ignorance Is Bliss
Who Shot Ya?
Open Letter (To A Landlord)
Elvis Is Dead
Doug Wimbish bass solo
Love Rears Its Ugly Head
Will Calhoun drum solo
Cult Of Personality
Should I Stay Or Should I Go