"I ain't no glamour boy - I'M FIERCE!"
The chorus of the second hit single from New York's Living Colour well describes the band's live performances. Unlike other rockers-come-lately, the critically acclaimed four-piece actually has the muscle to back up its claim to the world's best hard-rock group.In the band's second Utah appearance (the first was in 1988 at Salt Lake's much-missed Speedway Cafe), Living Colour simply blew the doors off its competition.
Though there were some songs the band left out of its all-too-brief 60-minute set (most notably "Information Overload" and the above-mentioned "Glamour Boys"), playing live, Living Colour bears little resemblance to its vinyl version - and in a good way.
Now that's not to say the band doesn't deserve its plaudits. On the contrary, no other hard-rock band in the world can blend music with message so well - especially in light of artists like Sting who beat you to death with heavy-handed political messages. But live, this group is hard to beat.
One thing that's not hard to do to Living Colour is dance - especially the slamming variety. Though some of Monday night's Fairpark security tried to discourage such seemingly discourteous behavior, Living Colour did its best to exploit that edge.
Largely concentrating on material from its "Time's Up" LP, Living Colour toughened up its sound considerably - especially with piercing solos from guitarist Vernon Reid. On the band's "Cult of Personality," probably its biggest hit to date, Reid won over a largely already-charmed Fairpark Coliseum crowd with his signature guitar opening - adding nearly impossible frettings that might have made Even Jimi Hendrix envious.
The ironic thing about that song is the fact that it discourages the American public's belief in media figures (like rock stars) with lines like:
"I sell you the things you need to be.
I'm the smiling face on your TV.
I'm the cult of personality.
I exploit you, you still love me.
I tell you one and one makes three.
I'm the cult of personality."
However, much of the media attention on Living Colour revolves around singer Corey Glover's reputation as a sex symbol and a media figure, even though the band may have one of the most talented musicians around in guitarist Reid. In fact, Reid is in much demand as a guest musician for other artists' albums - and rightfully so.
But make no mistake, the rest of the band is also superb, including drummer William Calhoun, who got no rest like his band members between the regular set and encore - largely due to his 10-minute long jam that left the crowd dripping wet and in sympathetic agony.
If the lead act well displayed its musical talents, then so did the opening act. Still seemingly anonymous, Bay-area trio Primus has been making a name for itself with its dazzling live sets. Monday night was no exception.
The band's funk-punk sound is one of the oddest, especially considering the fact that it often uses Les Claypool's bass as a melody instrument and Larry LaLonde's guitar as rhythm.
Such strange numbers as "To Defy the Laws of Tradition," "Too Many Puppies," "Mr. Knowitall" and "Harold of the Rocks" also benefitted from Claypool's odd nasal vocals, which for some reason makes me think of former Wall of Voodoo frontman Stan Ridgway's nasal delivery.
Also like that once-wonderful band, Primus has been stealing shows from much-better-known headliners (such as Jane's Addiction last December). It won't be long until these guys return as headliners, and in a big way. Mark my words.