Living Colour review: a Vivid and nostalgic night as Living Colour take us back in time

PUBLISHED: 10:38 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:41 18 July 2019

Living Colour perfom at The Waterfront. Picture: Adam Aiken

Living Colour perfom at The Waterfront. Picture: Adam Aiken

Adam Aiken

New Yorkers, Living Colour, played their groundbreaking album Vivid in full on a night filled with talent at The Waterfront.

Wayward Sons support Living Colour at The Waterfront. Picture: Adam AikenWayward Sons support Living Colour at The Waterfront. Picture: Adam Aiken

This was a real value-for-money evening at the Waterfront with three top acts gracing the stage.

The early birds got to enjoy a blues-rock set from guitarist Jared James Nichols. The place wasn't heaving but Nichols won't mind - he was getting exposure in front of people who might not normally have checked him out, and this performance will have won him several new friends.

He was followed by Wayward Sons, who are great, but you're rarely going to get a sub-par performance from a Toby Jepson-fronted band.

The set is necessarily shorter than the one they played upstairs in the Waterfront Studio a few months back, but there's room for the Sons to give us a few tracks from their upcoming second album, including The Joke's On You, as well as favourites from their debut release.

Living Colour perfom at The Waterfront. Picture: Adam AikenLiving Colour perfom at The Waterfront. Picture: Adam Aiken

What isn't as good as last time is the sound. It might sound a strange grumble for a gig such as this - and no doubt many metalheads will disagree - but the guitars were too loud. It would work for some bands, but Wayward Sons are as much about melodies and harmonies as they are about sheer noise. It means much of Dave Kemp's work on the keys, for example, was barely audible.

The songs are quality, though, and quality will always shine through. With the likes of Don't Wanna Go and Crush in their locker, and with Jepson seemingly intent on making eye contact with everyone in the room, it's a cracking set.

Jepson and Living Colour both began their careers in the mid-1980s, and both had their biggest commercial success a few years later. But while the former is fully immersed nowadays in Wayward Sons with just the occasional nod to his Little Angels past, Living Colour are here specifically to allow us to pay homage to their 1988 classic, Vivid, which they are playing in full.

Before we got to Vivid, they opened with a surprisingly subdued Wall - English-born guitarist Vernon Reid showing very little emotion as he stands stage right. But it's a misleading first impression as he gave us several dry asides and plenty of smiles as the evening progressed.

The sharply-dressed Corey Glover brings flamboyancy to proceedings, and his voice isn't too shabby, either - he hit the high notes perfectly with his falsetto.

Cult of Personality was both the breakthrough single from Vivid and the first track on the album, so we get it early on in the set, and it heralds the start of a journey back in time for those of us of a certain age.

And the beauty of paying tribute to an entire album is that alongside live staples such as Middle Man and Funny Vibe, we got to hear songs such as I Want to Know.

All in all, it was an hour or so that reminded us just how groundbreaking and eclectic Vivid was when it came out, and how inspirational its fusion of rock, metal, funk and hip-hop was. The record was released only two years after Aerosmith and Run-DMC had merged their genres with the remake of Walk This Way, and crossover acts were a much rarer concept back then.

Way too soon, Which Way to America? brought Vivid to a close. There's time for just one more song (Love Rears Its Ugly Head), and we don't get an encore.

But it's a small price to pay for enjoying three top acts in a single evening.

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