Living Colour 25th Anniversary of Vivid El Rey Theater 3/30/2013
Music sure has changed a lot since Living Colour released “Vivid” some 25 years ago. Fortunately, the band is better than ever.
I became a fan of Living Colour when my uncle gave me an advance copy of Vivid on a cassette tape. It was so powerful, heavy and completely different. It was pretty easy to tell that it was going to catch on.
Needless to say, “Cult of Personality” became their breakthrough hit and, as a result, they enjoyed some well deserved success. It’s nice to see powerful and meaningful music get praise once in a while.
They ended up touring with the Rolling Stones, and the thought of seeing a show at the gigantic Coliseum was too much for a high school kid to manage.
“Time’s Up” is the first CD I ever purchased. I still have the long box for it (that’s the cardboard contained CDs used to come in). I caught them on that tour around 23 years ago. They played the Universal Amphitheatre and the opener was Primus (before “Frizzle Fry” became popular).
Then, when they released “Stain”, they played at the Palladium in Hollywood. The openers were Bad Brains and an unknown band at the time named Tool. That was right around 20 years ago. “Stain” had a lot of pure slam dance music and that venue was mostly just one giant slam pit. The good old days.
Over the years, they went on to release “Biscuits”, “Collideoscope” (Which I have on DVD-Audio and regular CD- imagine going from cassette tape to DVD-Audio – quite a difference in format). I had to miss that show when they passed through town and I’ve always regretted it.
Living Colour is one of those rare bands that never has a bad song. Some are better than others, but the music is always interesting, the playing is excellent and there aren’t any “clunkers”. I caught Vernon Reid’s solo act when he played with the “Stars of Guitar” in 2009. He did a remarkable job playing mostly his solo material.
Later that year, they reformed and put on a phenomenal show at the Key Club (R.I.P. Key Club) for the release of “Chair In The Doorway”. It dawned on me then that Living Colour performs even better live now than they did in the 80s and 90s.
They also put on an unforgettable performance when they played at Experience Hendrix in 2010 in the former Universal Amphitheatre (now known as the Gibson Amphitheatre).
They were even the backing band for Joe Satriani that evening.
One of the coolest things about the show was how stoked everyone was to be there. Spending time with Chris DeLisa, Western Regional Sales Manager for Sabian and Noelle Kim Retes of Bonzo Bash fame proved to be most entertaining. Their vast knowledge and pure love for Living Colour made the show even cooler. From them seeing the soundcheck to having a pre-show meal with Will and Ingo Marte (Ingo deserves some recognition as one of the hardest working and most dedicated drum techs ever), to watching the show and hanging out afterwards, they were probably two of the happiest people in LA.
The show started around 10:15. The show was dedicated to the memory of Phil Ramone.
The venue was packed when they opened with “Preachin’ Blues” by Robert Johnson. They followed that up by tearing through Vivid from start to end with a few added song parts thrown in here and there (part of “Amazing Grace” and other tunes).
It was a treat hearing everything off the album after not having heard some of the songs off of Vivid for quite some time. When’s the last time you heard “I Want To Know”, “Middle Man”, “Broken Hearts”, and “Which Way To America?” These tunes all rock. The crowd was going nuts. The fact they can pull these songs off live is quite impressive in itself.
With Corey Glover’s soulful singing (what a voice!), Will Calhoun’s incredible drumming (he was ridiculously good on this evening), Doug Wimbish’s solid, funky bass playing and “Burnin'” Vernon’s ferocious guitar playing, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Will and Corey are both in their late forties and Vernon and Doug are in their mid-fifties and are all at the top of their game.
They followed the conclusion of their classic album with songs off of Time’s Up and Stain (Which are probably their two best albums).
It seems like they did a switch up and eliminated two of the best songs off Stain from their encore (according to the printed set list), but no complaints at all about this show – it was wonderful. Everyone was so happy.
Although those albums are supposedly long “out of print”, here’s hoping they do anniversary shows for those albums as well.
If you can see the Vivid concert, you definitely should. I felt like a teenager again. It was rad.