In 1984 Culture Club were one of the biggest pop groups in the world. Along with Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Wham! they exploded onto the charts with a basket full of terrific pop singles, a remarkable soundtrack for a generation of kids. Of course they also had Boy George, the top royalty of Gender Benders. He was a strapping lad, with outrageous costumes, a full face full of make-up, a quick wit, a bitchy streak, some strong messages of acceptances and the voice of an angel.
A short video montage of clips and TV appearances reminded us of all those glories and then with the impressive backing band vamping on Church of the Poison Mind, each member arrived on stage getting a huge cheer as they took position. Enter Boy George in a white outfit with black circles and crosses all over it (with matching hat and shoes) and it’s clear he has not lost any of the charisma that set him apart all those years ago. His voice is strong and he looks like he is having fun.
Next up is It’s a Miracle and I’ll Tumble For Ya and people are on their feet, dancing and singing along for all they are worth. He pays some special attention to some of Adelaide’s snappier dressers and seems genuinely pleased to finally be here. Long term fans are amused by the introduction of Like I Used To which he describes as being “From the new album…that isn’t out yet!”. That’s because this ‘new album’ Tribes has been ‘coming’ for a very long time. It’s a great song by the way, as are all the new unreleased song played tonight. Let Somebody Love You, Human Zoo, the funky Different Man (written about legend Sly Stone) I wonder if we will ever get to see released! Happy to hear new songs but five or six might have been a few too many unfamiliar/unavailable songs, given the amount of well loved gems in their treasure box.
They play a couple of covers that were Boy George solo singles Everything I Own (Bread/Ken Boothe) and The Crying Game (Dave Berry) and a couple of the bombastic mega ballads (Black Money and the epic Victims) that added the texture and majesty to those early albums. Move Away from their fourth LP From Luxury To Heartache (1986) was their last proper hit before the initial break up and is a bit of an unknown gem in this country. Tonight that particular gem sparkles and shines and is a personal highlight and was that a cheeky bit of Tears For Fears Head Over Heels in the outro? The end of the set is festooned with classic pop hits. Time (Clock of the Heart), Miss Me Blind, another Tribes cut Runaway Train which was inspired by Johnny Cash and is a country gallop.
After a short break they give us one last Tribes song, More Than Silence, it’s possibly my favourite of the new songs. It’s got a bit of the contemporary pop feel that a good Robbie Williams song might have. You can find it on Youtube, see what you think.
“Shall we play that song?” George teases. “YES!” we reply and play it they do. Karma Chameleon was such a massive in this country and if tonight’s response is anything to go by it remains of the defining chart hits of the era. People are going nuts, as well they should be. 70’s glam rock had quite the influence of George and Culture Club and they smash through a rockin’ version of the T-Rex stomper Get It On (Bang-a-Gong) which merges into Bowie’s Starman. It’s a big party finish for a great night.
Thirty two years. Well worth the wait. Let’s hear it for the Boy.
Church of the Poisoned Mind
It’s a Miracle
I’ll Tumble For Ya
Like I Used To
Everything I Own
Let Somebody Love You
Time (Clock of the Heart)
The Crying Game
Miss Me Blind
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
More Than Silence
Bang a Gong (Get It On)