Living Colour’s rise to hard rock royalty with their 1988 debut “Vivid” came with no small amount of unfortunate hype.
Set yourself back a quarter century ago and recall the landscape: at the time, mainstream hard rock was littered with cores of poofy-haired, neon and spandex-threaded anglo bands whose main musical charges were a few degrees of separation from '60s and '70s hard rock icons (Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Cream). For the most part, there was little originality in the mid and late '80s hair metal strata, but that didn’t stop the bands from packing arenas or MTV – given the big hair and bigger budgets paid into the music videos by their labels – from playing the hair metal ilk ad nauseum.
When Living Colour burst into that world with “Vivid” and its accompanying single and video, “Cult of Personality,” and many a listener/viewer and journo made note of the color of the band’s skin as much as they did the music – and, sadly, the music was secondary in some cases.
This unfortunate hype, however, was offset by the end product; “Vivid” is, arguably, one of three mainstream hard rock albums to come out of the '80s that can be deemed a masterpiece (The other being Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction.” Metallica is exempt from this as their mainstream breakthrough is being traced here to 1991).
From “Cult” to the closing track, “Which Way to America?” there’s nary a weak track or bum note, and lyrically, much of “Vivid” made listeners stop and think, a rarity in that genre and era. Corey Glover’s vocal prowess put the Robert Plant wanna-bes he was often and wrongly compared to to shame.
A pair of stellar albums followed “Vivid” – 1990’s “Time’s Up” and 1993’s “Stain” - before Living Colour took what would amount to a half-decade hiatus. Another pair of original sets – 2003’s “Collideoscope” and 2009’s “The Chair in the Doorway” – have followed since, but their current tour finds Living Colour celebrating its “Vivid” past on its 25th anniversary and performing the set front to back.
Living Colour, 8 p.m. April 11, Park West, 322 W. Arrmitage, Chicago. $25 (18 and older show). FYI: (773) 929-1322, JAMUSA.COM
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For more information, contact the venues or ticket sales agencies listed below. Unless otherwise indicated, all shows are all-ages.
Atoms for Peace, Oct. 2, UIC Pavilion (UICPAVILION.COM)
Devendra Banhart, May 31, Park West (18 and older, JAMUSA.COM)
Dave Matthews Band, July 5-6, Alpine Valley Music Theatre (LIVENATION.COM)
Dark Star Orchestra, July 6, Park West (18 and older, JAMUSA.COM)
Luke Bryan, June 15, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (LIVENATION.COM)
Andrew Belle, May 24, Schubas (two shows, late show 21 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)
Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, July 27, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (LIVENATION.COM)
Damien Dempsey, Sept. 4, Lincoln Hall (21 and older, LINCOLNHALLCHICAGO.COM)
Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, July 9, Charter One Pavilion (LIVENATION.COM)