REVIEW : Living Colour + Valhalla Lights | The Northern Byron Bay - Dec 21st.

Living Colour are a really important band for a lot of people.

Not only have they written some of the most musically technical songs that have influenced generations of musicians to start playing, but also won the hearts of the average listener who have been moved by their catchy hooks, soulful thought provoking lyrics and heavy grooves.

[endif]Their 1988 debut album Vivid changed the game, spawning five hit singles including the smash Cult of Personality, catapulting the New Yorker's into the spotlight and turning the rock world on it’s head.

[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]30 years later, Living Colour are on tour celebrating Vivid with their fans all over the world and it has come time for Aussies to get in on the action.

[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]Tonight the gig is being held at The Northern in Byron Bay, a slightly smaller venue than some of the others they have been playing on the tour.

The Northern has played host to many legendary bands over the years and the last time I was here was for Sepultura and Death Angel earlier in the year.

Even though it is an almost two hour drive to get to it is well worth the trek as you would not normally get the chance to see bands of this caliber in such an intimate setting.

[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]Due to the daylight savings time difference and a massive storm south of the Gold Coast we sadly missed openers Massive but arrive at the Northern in time for Byron Bay heavy hitters Valhalla lights, who have packed the room early to get the punters pumped up for the headlining act.

[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]The bands front woman Ange Saul is an incredibly powerful vocalist, probably one of the best I have heard locally.

That combined with layered vocal samples and their raw guitar driven desert rock results in a rowdy and sweaty welcome reception from the room that shakes from every chord being blasted out of the amps. [endif]

Valhalla lights have been making a name for themselves on the scene for awhile now and everything you hear about them is true.

They are incredible live and I’d suggest them to anyone who wants to have a few beers and let loose any night of the week.

After missing Living Colour on their last Australian tour I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see them again, especially since they were playing tracks from Vivid and their latest album Shade, which was one of my favorites of last year. [endif]

Opening with Middle Man, Living Colour are in top form from the get go and their onstage charisma is contagious and electrifying. [endif]

Guitarist Vernon Reid was a big influence on me personally growing up and to see him effortlessly ripping solo’s in songs like ‘Desperate People’ and ‘Funny Vibe’ only a few feet away from me is something I don’t think I will ever forget and stirs up memories trying to learn his riffs in my younger years.

You can’t deny that Corey Glover is one of the best vocalists in the world.

Even after years of recording and touring he still sounds exactly the same.

His range and power is untouchable and otherworldly which he effortlessly displays during the moving Open Letter (To A Landlord), my favorite track from Vivid.

During the song he gets the crowd to sing the chorus while he improvises his vocal lines resulting in a feeling of unity with the band and the fans, it is one hell of a moment and worth the price of admission alone.

The way the band interacts with each other throughout the evening is fascinating to watch, they communicate and give each other cues without losing their place or missing a beat in the blink of an eye and seem to be having a blast while doing it.

Even after touring together for so many years, the boys seem to still really enjoy jamming with each other and gives you the idea that they are like brothers off stage as well which makes them incredibly likeable. [endif]

Throughout the evening each member gets their time to shine in the spotlight.

Bass player Doug Wimbish’s solo is a highlight of their set which is a combo of melodic finger tapping and looping leaving jaws slamming to the floor as he builds layer upon layer of his sonic masterpiece.

Drummer Will Calhoun is an intimidating force of nature behind the kit.

His power and precision is mind blowing and you can see why he is one of the most in demand, versatile drummers in the industry and one of the key ingredients to Living Colour’s distinct sound and he makes it look so damn easy.

During his drum solo he breaks out the Korg Wavedrum machine and layers the samples with his own playing resulting in the packed room erupting in cheers as he shows off his chops.

[endif]Other tracks we are treated to throughout the night were Ignorance Is Bliss, Glamour Boys and Come On from their latest record Shade before wrapping up with Cult of Personality which sends the pit crazy.

The only disappointing thing about the gig was we didn’t get Love Rears It’s Ugly Head,

I’m guessing this was due to time restrictions, venue curfew or the show running behind.

I found it surprising that a song as popular as Love Rears was skipped in favor of some other tracks that were played but I got the feeling this wasn’t part of the bands plan as there were a couple of moments throughout the gig a mystery man at the side of stage was seen pulling them aside to talk to them.

After Cult of Personality the show seems to come to an abrupt finish with many fans waiting for an encore, instead the amps are switched off and the house music is played.

As much of a bummer this was we really can’t complain as we just witnessed some of the greatest musicians in the world play a smaller intimate set in a tiny beach town.

That is something that should be appreciated as a rare opportunity and not taken for granted.

The tour wraps up in Sydney tonight at The Metro Theatre. Tickets :

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