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Review: Living Colour – 24/07/19 – Riverside, Newcastle

29/07/2019

For many bands, simply making music as a career for thirty years would be an achievement. However for Living Colour, who have been performing since 1984, they don’t just settle for success: they strive for greatness. Touring the UK to celebrate three decades since releasing their breakout album ‘Vivid’, the band hasn’t struggled to fill a venue…

Despite the city being in the grasp of a stifling heatwave, Newcastle’s iconic Quayside venue Riverside is full to bursting early in the night. Blues rocker Jared James Nichols opens up the gig with energy and crowd interaction rivaling any headliner. He’s followed up by British band Wayward Sons, who keep pace with their own intense brand of hard rock. 

Before Living Colour even take the stage, tonight’s crowd is giddy and excitable. When the band walk on and fire into ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, saying that people lose their minds is an understatement. Corey Glover’s singing cuts through the heavily distorted rhythm like a knife, and offers a brief glimpse into the powerhouse of vocals that are to come.

After the song concludes to screams and applause Corey, who is cool and relaxed in a chequered suit, announces to the venue that they’ll be playing ‘Vivid’ in full to celebrate its thirty-year anniversary. This proves a popular decision, and even more so when the band starts playing one of their biggest hits, Cult of Personality.

The classic has lost absolutely none of its energy, and bouts of improvisation keep it sounding fresh and electrifying. Guitarist Vernon Reid makes his blistering fretwork seem effortless and easy, offering smiles and playful face-pulling to the crowd while his guitar screams with wild feats of contortion and speed. Similarly, Will Calhoun brings the same style and fury to his drumming, and bassist Doug Wimbish keeps Living Colour safely in-groove no matter how far from the rails they seem to veer.

The set cruises through genres, and vocalist Corey Glover absolutely kills every one of them. Oozing charisma and charm at all times, he holds notes high enough to make a soprano blush – while faster paced songs like ‘Which Way to America’ give him a chance to inject some urgency and aggression to his vocals.

 

A full demonstration of his talent comes during ‘Open Letter (To a Landlord)’, which spotlights  the power and range to his voice. At no point do his vocals threaten to waver or crack, and his only pause is in conducting his rapt audience-turned-choir for an emotional verse. Despite playing for as long as they have, Living Colour are awe-struck and humble each time the audience comes together to sing with them. 

The set comes to a close with ‘What’s Your Favourite Colour’, ‘Elvis Is Dead’ and ‘Love Rears Its Ugly Head’, fan favourites that elicit a huge crowd response. 

When finally even the encore is finished, the crowd cheers and claps – and like Living Colour, who are approaching four decades of performing, it shows no signs of stopping. Even as the applause seems like it will go on forever, the band comes down to the crowd and interacts with as many people as they can possibly reach. 

Living Colour played Riverside’s gig with the same enthusiasm and energy as they likely had for their first gig in the eighties. It’s clear from tonight that something as small as time isn’t going to stop them.

PHOTOS: CARL CHAMBERS

WORDS: ANDREW BROWN

For more photos form Living Colour’s show, head on over to our freshly published Gig Gallery… 

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