TVD Live Shots: Living Colour at the Metro Sydney, 5/13

Two-time Grammy award winning fusion, funk, and rock ‘n’ roll icons Living Colour made a triumphant return to Sydney last weekend. The New York natives were eagerly welcomed by a sold out crowd inside of the jam-packed Metro in downtown.

I haven’t seen these guys since the groundbreaking Stain album back in 1993, so when I found myself traveling to Sydney from London the same week they were in town, I opted to get off my 26 hour flight and head straight to the gig on zero sleep, and I’m glad that I did. Here’s a band that seemed to sort of go away quietly after their peak in popularity but now have come roaring back to center stage based on the strength of their impressive legacy and rabid fan base.

Living Colour’s impact on the cultural landscape cannot be understated. The band that broke new ground in so many ways continues to push their message forward. “Tom Morello once told me that he had been thinking about forming a band when ‘Cult Of Personality’ came out—it prompted him to do so,” said guitarist Vernon Reid in a recent interview. He continues, “We were part of a genuine cultural change.”

That cultural change and outspoken commentary continued last year when Living Colour released their take on the Notorious B.I.G. track “Who Shot Ya?” which was recorded to protest the ongoing gun violence across the US. This has set up the release of the band’s seventh studio album, Shade, due to be released on September 8 on Megaforce Records.

The Metro was absolutely bursting at the seams that night. Opening act Massive, hailing from Melbourne, set the stage perfectly with a sound that falls somewhere between Motorhead and early GnR. I had never heard of these guys before, but they were on fire. You can just tell when a band is firing on all cylinders and these guys certainly were taking advantage of a huge opportunity to melt some new faces in the crowd.

It was finally time for Living Colour to hit the stage. Opening the set with a blistering version of Robert Johnson’s “Preacher Blues,” all guns were blazing as frontman Corey Glover immediately answered the question as to his vocals, sounding on top of his game. The rest of the setlist was a brilliant mix of old and new, classics and a rarity or two, that ended with a climax for the last song of the set. It’s no secret the band are not fans of the current political environment as Vernon Reid made very clear just before launching into the all-time classic “Cult of Personality.” It’s one of those moments in music history where a song written almost 30 years ago eerily predicts the future and instantly becomes more relevant than ever.

The encore was spectacular as well and included “Glamour Boys” and “What’s your Favorite Colour,” which led directly into The Clash classic “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” The Australian tour wraps up on Friday in Perth but European dates start in September which include a full run of the UK.

MASSIVE

Bottom line: Living Colour are in top form as they prime their audiences around the world for new music. The band’s seventh studio album, Shade, will be released on September 8 via Megaforce Records—the follow-up to 2009’s The Chair In The Doorway.

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