Club Academy – Manchester, UK – 30 September 2017
Review by Mark Dean || Photos by John Gilleese
Living Colour, a cross-genre, legendary band that don’t come to UK shores too often. Immediately these dates were announced a huge degree of hype coupled with fan hysteria took over. Despite touring their hybrid style of musical mashup since the eighties I have never been blessed with ever witnessing the enigma of the band live. When they were all over MTV they were lauded widely and justifiably recognized as trailblazers at a time when that music channel was dominated by white rock bands. To me personally the music itself was also unique, a strange hybrid of rock/metal and rap, blues, hard to define but definitely sounded great to me sonically. While in the US they were praised purely on the strength of being something different, i.e. black guys playing rock music, to me it was more important that they were playing quality and different music, rather than what colour their skin was.
Recently released album Shade (only 6 years after their previous one) was the reason that they would be doing a full UK tour. Although the delay in the album’s release can actually be attributed to several factors. Shade itself is a great album-it doesn’t diversify too much from the signature elements of the Living Colour sound but it also adds some new flavours to their sonic soundscape. The band still retain their political beliefs, the new cover of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” is testament to that, the song itself sadly still relevant to modern America in a new presidential era where racial prejudice is omnipresent. The individuality of Living Colour originates from the fact that all four band members come from different backgrounds in terms of musical influences.
The long-awaited set list played by the band focused largely on fan favourites rather than the more obscure and eclectic songs from the band’s back catalogue. The atmosphere itself and indeed the connection between band and audience was something bordering on spirituality. The evening at many points felt like an event and so much more than just another live concert. Band and audience meeting in a cohesion of emotions, and even some tear jerking moments in addition to the ecstasy of joy during the Living Colour‘s set.
The new album Shade was represented, but rather than being overstated, was dipped into selectively and enhanced the evening rather than detracting from the maestros’ return.
The band individual components were all allowed to showcase their unique talents through solo spots where they maintained the correct balance between delivering entertainment but at the same time not coming across as overplayed and too self-indulgent. In conclusion a long awaited first viewing of this legendary band -collectively I and the Manchester audience that witnessed this show will not forget in a long time. Simply one of the best shows that I have seen in recent years. I truly hope that the band will not leave it quite so long before their return visit to these UK shores.