It’s not often that you get to see musical legends playing mere feet from you. However, that turned out to be the case last Thursday when I saw Grammy winners Living Colour play a tiny Boston bar called Johnny D’s. The groundbreaking funk/rock band was touring in support of their fifth studio album, “The Chair in the Doorway”, and their 2-hour plus set proved that after more than twenty years, they’ve still got the goods.
The band structured their show somewhat strangely, kicking off with an hour of hits before playing their new album in it’s entirety. However, they were good enough that they were able to retain almost the entire audience for that second hour despite the fact that they were playing music no one had heard before.
One thing that still resonates is the band’s diversity. Far more than your standard rock band, Living Colour’s performance incorporated elements of jazz, soul, electronica. Hell, there was even a 10-minute solo performed by drummer Will Calhoun! It’s a testament to their superior musicianship that they were able to traverse so many different styles and still sound like a cohesive unit.
Perhaps the most impressive thing of all was the fact that lead singer Corey Glover has retained a quite impressive set of pipes. Straddling the line between rock ‘n roll growler and soul shouter, with one hell of a vocal range, Glover was equal parts attitude (strutting through “Elvis is Dead”) and emotion (a heart-rending version of “Open Letter (to a Landlord)”). He might be one of rock’s most underrated frontmen-he’s certainly a much better vocalist than even Living Colour’s records indicate.
Although the crowd was there for “Cult of Personality” (which closed the show) and “Glamour Boys”, the new material was well-received, with one audience member shouting out “album of the year” in the midst of the proceedings.
I grew up admiring this band and I must say, they did not disappoint live. Their show easily placed on my list of favorite concerts, and this was the *start* of their tour. I’d almost hate to see how good they are once they get their legs under them. While history might not be as kind as it should be to Living Colour, believe me when I say that these guys are still worth checking out two decades after their heyday.