Living Colour returned to Auckland’s Powerstation last night proving that, almost 40 years after forming…this is a band with plenty of gas left in the tank. Guitarist Vernon Reid formed the band in New York in 1984 and finally settled on a lineup that featured drummer Will Calhoun, bassist Muzz Skillings and vocalist Cory Glover and their 1988 debut album, Vivid, shot up the charts thanks to hit single Cult Of Personality, a little backstage help from Mick Jagger and a huge wealth of talent. The fact that these were black men making loud, aggressive rock & roll was something of a novelty in a time when Hip Hop was making in-roads and hair metal ruled MTV.
Laughton Kora’s Black Comet is on hand to warm up the crowd and their unique brand of ‘galactic funk” proves to be a perfect precursor for the main attraction. Channeling the great George Clinton and P-Funk, Black Comet not only laid down a groove, they took us a little higher than when we entered the venue.
Tonight, Living Colour play their third album, 1993’s Stain, in its entirety. By this time Skillings had been replaced by Doug Wimbish, a trailblazing bassist in his own right. And so Wimbish, Calhoun, Reid and Glover rip into album opener Go Away, Vernon’s guitar tearing into the Powerstation and the assembled fans.
Always flamboyant, Cory Glover is decked out in a multi-coloured outfit that screams “look at me”. The other 3 musicians choose to draw attention to themselves via their playing rather than their dress sense.
That’ no diss on Glover, after all, every great rock band needs a great front man, a lesson Living Colour clearly learned from their early days with Jagger.
“Right on!” Glover responds to a call from the audience as they launch into Ignorance Is Bliss, proving, to these ears, just why the the American far-right supporters seem so happy.
Ok, no time for political talk…especially when these four musicians are so fluent on their instruments. Each man takes the spotlight during the nearly two-hour set. Most impressive was Wimbish. who along with taking time to pay tribute to 50 years of hip hop, this after another tribute in Sinead by performing their version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U.
As is the case with any great rock and roll band, they got better, tighter, stronger, more engaging, the longer they played. Glamour Boys, This Is The Life and Cult Of Personality brought the house down while show closer Time’s Up gave Doug Wimbish another chance to give up the funk.
Make no mistake, this was a band effort, and nearly 40 years after getting together, Living Colour are still a band with something to say.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk:
Living Colour Setlist:
- Go Away
- Ignorance Is Bliss
- Leave It Alone
- Mind Your Own Business
- Never Satisfied
- This Little Pig
- Nothing Compares 2 U
- Glamour Boys
- This Is The Life
- Cult Of Personality
- Time’s Up
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