Near the end of the Black Magic Ball at the Post Office Pavilion Friday night, guitarist Vernon Reid's band Living Colour ignited some hometown go-go. That's when masquerade bedlam broke loose. Within seconds the stage was swarming with people from the audience, many of them wearing outlandishly extravagant costumes and all of them dancing to the music's dense, unwavering beat.
It was a great way to wrap up a Halloween party -- a parade of ghoulish and cartoonish characters on stage -- but it was far from the musical highlight of the show. That came earlier when the quartet unveiled some original material and a downright frightening sonic blast of its own -- a rhythmically compressed roar that owed more to rock than funk and yet never seemed to look back in any direction for very long.
Although the words to several songs, including "Cult of Personality" and "Which Way to America," didn't always survive the hall's blunting acoustics (despite the powerful vocals of Corey Glover), there was no mistaking the band's intensity and promise. Throughout the show, drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Muzz Skillens gave the band a fat, bottom-heavy sound that brought the best out of Reid's feverishly inventive guitar.
The opening set by the sextet J.J. Jumpers was more conventional, drawing more often on pop and soul music for inspiration. Even so, the nucleus of the band -- bassist Jared Nickerson, vocalist Beverly Slade Perry and guitarist Billy White -- is first-rate and the group moved from quirky dance tracks to romantic ballads without a hitch.