There were only two ways to get a better glimpse of Living Colour at Ritchie Coliseum Tuesday night. You could either weave your way through the dense throng standing at the foot of the haze-shrouded stage or, with a boost from a friend (or perhaps an enemy), roll over the top of the crowd while supported by endless waves of outstretched arms.
Both routes were well-traveled as the band tore through its last two albums and other tunes sparked by guitarist Vernon Reid's torrid solos and drummer William Calhoun's ferocious beat. If the show had a unifying theme it was best expressed by Corey Glover, the band's charismatic and inexhaustible singer, when the band began chanting "what goes around, comes around." Rock, funk, blues, soul, reggae, pop, even snippets of "Amazing Grace" and the Beatles' "She Loves You" all figured into the mix, with Reid's Hendrix-like flights and Calhoun's push-pull dance rhythms defining the basic thrust.
Granted, this was hardly the setting in which to appreciate what the quartet has to say through its songs (which is considerably more than most of the competition), but to judge from the way the crowd's reacted to "Elvis Is Dead" and "Cult of Personality," the words had registered long ago. Glover, in fact, was so taken by the response to "Cult" that he dived offstage and was briefly hoisted aloft by the crowd.