Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Mon 17 Dec. 2018
Back in May 2017, Living Colour frontman Corey Glover told the Adelaide crowd they’d be back, and nineteen months to the day, there they were once again, playing to a packed Governor Hindmarsh Hotel on a Monday night. As it turns out, the return engagement wasn’t to support last year’s excellent SHADE album, but rather to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their groundbreaking debut album, Vivid. Australia mostly missed out on the Vivid 25th anniversary shows, as Living Colour’s Australian touring at the time was limited to a short set at the 2014 Soundwave Festival, so the opportunity to celebrate the record was welcome.
Of course, any opportunity to see Living Colour shouldn’t be missed, as each member is a world-class musician in their own right, and magic frequently results when they come together. Even when performing songs that are 30 years old, they attack them as if they were brand new, with all members frequently improvising, never settling for the notes as recorded. Consequently, the result is always fresh and immediate, inviting familiar ears to re-evaluate new solos, rhythms, and melodies, and with them, the songs in the context of the moment.
Kicking off with Middle Man, they wasted no time getting the crowd moving, and the veteran rockers showed they came to have fun, as Vernon Reid followed it up by attempting a solo rendition of The Beatles’ Lady Madonna, before falling apart in the chorus and earning a gentle ribbing from Corey Glover, much to fans’ amusement.
From there they carried on working through Vivid, from which every song but I Want To Know would eventually be performed over the course of the night. An early highlight was Open Letter (To A Landlord), with Corey Glover stretching out his vocal cords for the extended introduction, before inviting the crowd to fill in on the chorus for the first of many audience participation opportunities of the night.
A short break from Vivid saw the band performing the bouncy Ignorance Is Bliss from 1993’s Stain, before Shade lead single Come On drew a raucous call and response from the crowd, another highlight. From there it was back to Vivid for their cover of Talking Heads’ Memories Can’t Wait, followed by Vernon Reid’s lovelorn ballad, Broken Hearts.
They again broke away from Vivid to deliver a crushing, impassioned version of This Is The Life, the show-stopping closer to 1990’s Time’s Up, with an extended solo from Vernon Reid, before leaving the stage to Doug Wimbish for a mesmerising looping bass solo.
The band returned to deliver the hits, rocking their way through Glamour Boys, Love Rears Its Ugly Head, and Type, before smashing through Vivid closer Which Way To America?, which, despite its now-dated references to VCRs and stereos, remains a biting criticism of the exclusivity of the American dream, as the narrator notes the difference between the America he sees on television and the one he sees around him.
Of course, no Living Colour show would be complete without their breakthrough single, Cult Of Personality, which closed out the main set with a head-banging audience singalong.
Having expressed concerns about the curfew, they skipped the encore break, opting to leave the stage to Will Calhoun for a drum solo that saw him moving between his drumkit and a variety of electronic pads before taking centre stage for a handheld pad solo that allowed him to get up close and personal with the crowd.
The rest of the band came back once more to send the crowd home with a blistering Time’s Up and a funky, irresistible What’s Your Favourite Colour? The latter track earned laughs from the band and crowd alike after a false start which only inspired it to greater heights. Of course, everyone in The Gov knew the answer, shouting back, “Living Colour!”
Images courtesy of Matt Saunders
Lady Madonna (tease) Vernon Reid solo (Beatles cover)
Open Letter (To A Landlord)
Ignorance Is Bliss
Memories Can’t Wait (Talking Heads cover)
This Is The Life
Love Rears Its Ugly Head
Type / Which Way To America
Cult Of Personality
What’s Your Favourite Colour?