We had so wanted to see the much-acclaimed trailblazers of power funk metal Living Colour when they made their recent trek through town last December and somehow life got in the way and we missed it. This disappointment literally had us asking to ourselves, “How long will it be before they return to Music City?”. The answer was not very long as Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish made a convincing command performance stop at the City Winery in Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2016.
Living Colour has their origin in New York City. Founded in 1984 they quickly fused heavy metal, punk rock, funk, jazz, hip hop and alternative rock into a Grammy-Award winning sound that was all their own. On the strength of their debut Vivid they rose to the top of the pop charts. When they were hand-picked by the Rolling Stones to support the 1989 “Steel Wheels” stadium tour their legacy was secure and they’re still going strong today.
“Nashville, Tennessee,” greeted Vernon as the band kicked off their set with a caustic rendition of “Middle Man” that nicely set things in motion. Corey was curiously dressed in cap, sunglasses and a blue apron which had some fans wondering if this was a modern upgrade of the wet suit he famously donned onstage for many years.
A recorded voice was heard saying, “Hello there, I is your new neighbor” that created an intense vibe leading into a funky jam introducing “Funny Vibe” complete with a modern adaptation of the Black Lives Matter catch phrase – “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” – woven into the mix.
Continuing their musical commentary the next track also opened with a taped bit that revealed startling statistics on gun violence to underscore the seriousness of their seriously good cover of “Who Shot Ya?” by The Notorious B.I.G.
“Oh, the dust you’re gonna smell on this one is gonna be good,” Corey said as the band dusted off “Behind the Sun” from 2009’s return to form album The Chair in the Doorway that had us wondering just where is that long overdue new album announced last year as Shade but still nowhere to be seen or heard in Nashville.
“We’re among friends, who have blogs,” discussed Corey and Vernon following a fine version of “Desperate People”. The band certainly provided enough fodder to write about on this evening as the show was complete with political commentary, aggressive angst, exhilarating musicianship that was all uncorked and satisfyingly poured out on a Monday night in Nashville.
Living Colour finished up their 80-minute powerhouse performance with the obligatory “Cult of Personality” mashed up with a nod to James Brown by incorporating “Get Up” and “(I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” into the mix that reminded us that this quintessential quartet are hard working godfather’s of funk-metal in their own right.
Opening for Living Colour in Nashville was a five-piece called Kaleido fronted by a charismatic and energetic female singer who was part Gwen Stefani part Cyndi Lauper as she led a well-oiled rock outfit straight outta Detroit Rock City. Their 40-minute showcase elicited loud cheers from the knowledgeable Nashville audience and they went on their way with many new fans in their corner.
Living Colour lived up to their legend and confirmed their cult status at their second appearance in Nashville in four months time at the Nashville City Winery at 609 Lafayette Street. It is an upscale venue that serves fine food, music and wine. Upcoming events include Don Felder, The Zombies, Jake Shimabukuro, Hot Tuna and Robby Kreiger.