It has been 25 years since LIVING COLOUR burst onto the hard rock world landscape with the multi-platinum album, Vivid and the band has been celebrating this occasion by touring and playing the album in its entirety. This past Saturday, November 9th, they stopped in Pittsburgh, PA at the Altar Bar for a show that proved to be exciting, unpredictable, and spontaneous.
The Altar Bar used to be a church and singer Corey Glover walked onto the stage and told the crowd “I know you all are sinners.” Glover, guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Doug Wimbish, and drummer Wil Calhoun opened the proceedings with Preachin’ Blues’, a ROBERT JOHNSON cover with a slow, soothing rhythm that warmed up the place and to ease the audience in as it was going to be a long night of rocking.
Reid explained they were celebrating Vivid after the blues, and then he promptly ripped right into ‘Cult Of Personality’. The band’s most well-known song made the audience go wild and Reid flawlessly soloed the frenzied closing part of the song.
‘I Want To Know’, the groovy rocker and ‘Middle Man’ followed and before the strong ‘Desperate People’, Reid did some noodling on the guitar, complete with some funny facial expressions.
Before ‘Open Letter (To A Landlord)’, Glover and the boys did ‘Amazing Grace’ and it was quite appropriate for a venue that that was formerly holy ground. It sure felt like a church procession too with Glover delivering a soulful rendition of the hymn, stretching his voice out as far as it could go.
The funky ‘Funny Vibe’ was up next and then was ‘Memories Can’t Wait’ and it was interesting when the place became all quiet during the midsection when the song slows down and becomes soft. Reid opined that ‘Broken Hearts’ was “for the ladies” and the last three songs off Vivid, ‘Glamour Boys’, ‘What’s Your Favorite Color? (Theme Song)’, and ‘Which Way To America?’ all drew huge responses from the crowd and the fans were more than happy to shout “Living Colour” during ‘What’s Your Favorite Color? (Theme Song)’.
The band was just getting started after Vivid was complete and the stage was given to Calhoun to showcase his drumming ability. At one point, he pulled out glowing drum sticks and pounded the skins in the dark so all anyone could see was the sticks moving about. It was easy to tell how much fun all the members were having and the camaraderie between each other because after Calhoun did his part the rest of the members all gave him high-fives or fist bumps for a job well done and that’s not something you usually see after someone gives their solo.
In a tribute to the late LOU REED, the boys played ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and Reed explained that their paths crossed many times and for everyone to join in if they wanted to. Pittsburgh gladly accepted and Reid expressed joy to the response the song drew and said during the song “This is the funkiest town we have been too.”
Wimbish was also given the stage to work some bass magic. Wimbish employed a laid-back approach to his playing all night, but he commanded the stage during his solo and enchanted the crowd with a melancholic, downtrodden solo what could be described as the beggar’s blues.
‘Type’, one of the better known songs from the band’s second album, Time’s Up, was next. The tempo was sped up and took on a thrashier character and band also infused some funky bits in the midsection and also a military march style in the latter part, breathing new life in the tune and certainly kept everyone on their toes.
‘Time’s Up’, the fast-paced title track was amazingly played even faster live than on the record, which is surprising considering how the tempo shifts in the song, but it was no problem for these guys.
This immediately segued into ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine’, a JAMES BROWN cover. Glover has tremendous stage presence and it was exemplified here as he got his groove on with audience shouting back “Get on up.” Glover danced around which prompted others in the audience to shake it. During the course of the cover, when the audience was clapping and the air was electric, Glover climbed up onto the bar, located to the left of the stage, to keep singing and this prompted a woman to get up on the bar next to him and dance.
To round out the night was a cover of THE CLASH’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ and of course it was not a typical cover as the guys made some twists and turns throughout the duration of the song.
When it was all said and done, Living Colour lit up the Altar Bar for about 148 minutes. It truly was a celebration of a remarkable album in Vivid and all things glorious about rock ‘n’ roll and even though the Altar Bar used to be a place of worship, all the fans were giving praise to Living Colour when it was all over.