1980s music titans Culture Club are back. They slayed New York last night, July 27, 2015, with the first of two sold out shows at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. Here are 5 things I observed at the show:
Boy George of Culture Club
1. Culture Club have so many great songs! When I arrived at the Beacon Theatre, a DJ was spinning 1980s music remixed with modern beats, which set the mood for an incredibly good time. At the stroke of 8:30, Boy George, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss, better known as Culture Club, hit the stage. A video montage of Culture Club’s highs and lows preceded the band coming out and then they pummeled the crowd with hit after hit. If you had the pleasure to be alive when these songs came out, you remember that these tracks were so massive, the radio all but played them to death. When you see songs as beloved as these performed in a large concert hall, the enthusiasm of the crowd makes you fall in love with them all over again.
Roy Hay and Boy George
Kicking off with “Church of the Poison Mind,” the entire night was a giant sing-a-long, with the audience losing its mind during classic tracks such as “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “It’s a Miracle,” “Miss Me Blind,” “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “Move Away,” fan favorite “Black Money,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” and the song that the audience went the most bonkers over, “Karma Chameleon.” Two of Boy George’s solo hits, covers of “Everything I Own and “The Crying Game” were also played to much adulation from the crowd. David Bowie’s “Starman,” which was included on Culture Club’s first reunion album in 2001, closed out the show. But the night was not all nostalgia, Culture Club is working on a new record and 6 songs were aired, including the self reflective “Like I Used To,” “Different Man,” “Let Somebody Love You,” and their latest single “More Than Silence.”
Boy George of Culture Club
2. Culture Club’s music transports you back to a time where things were not disposable. As Boy George pointed out on stage, the world is finally starting to get its first taste of sexual equality and this was the world Boy George has wanted to create and live in since the onset of his career. When you think of how far we’ve come since Culture Club debuted in 1982, you realize how many barriers were broken down by this band. How many other bands do you know that were multi-racial, straight, had an extremely outspoken, openly gay lead singer and had crossover appeal throughout the world? Not many! Boy George has always been uncompromising in his stance on being yourself under any circumstance and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of you. In a time where you faced much more persecution from your peers and the media for being flamboyant, out and proud than you do today, gay culture owes a huge debt of gratitude to Boy George for never backing down.
3. Culture Club shows still attract a widely diverse audience. I’ve seen the band together and Boy George solo on many occasions, and you will rarely find a more diverse crowd. Last night, you could readily find young and old people, gay, straight and of all races and that is a great thing. I think the audience had a collective realization of all these things I said after “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was played and the ovation after the song went on for several minutes and Boy George even had to tell the audience to stop cheering because he was about to get emotional from the outpouring of love.
Roy Hay and Mikey Craig
4. Culture Club has aged really well. From the songs still sounding amazing, to the fact that the band looks great and well preserved, Culture Club may have only had a few hit albums, but they left a permanent mark in music history. Boy George famously had drug and legal problems for many years and not only was he in good shape physically, he also sounded great. His voice is a little huskier than it used to be, but he can still hit the notes and he still lets you have it with his witty onstage banter, his numerous costume changes and his “it quality” as a performer.
5. I would be remiss if I didn’t get up on my soap box to complain about the excessive amount of selfie and picture taking that went on. I am guilty of taking photos as much as the next person, but there is one slight difference – I use an actual camera (which is cheaper than an iPhone and light and compact to carry around) and I bring this up because I do not have to block other people’s views to take my pictures. What exactly are the people doing with all these photos and videos they are taking? Certainly not blogging about them for a worldwide audience to read! Cell phone photos come out much worse than camera photos. Also, they are much more obtrusive and people literally don’t seem to care at all about anyone around them, because the only way to get a photo is to hold the device over your head, which blocks the view of EVERYONE behind you. Take as many photos as you like and I don’t care if you watch the entire show through the back of your phone – but PLEASE PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!!!!! So many times in the show, Boy George came over to our side to serenade us and his face was cock blocked by everyone around me holding up their fucking phones and even worse, their giant iPads!!! Boy George complained about this during his last solo tour and I wish he would have said something about it last night because it’s plain excessive – and it’s happening at every concert I go to, and as I go to a lot of shows, it’s starting to become a deal breaker for me.
The irony is that many of the concert goers should know better because when this music came out, it was not a digital age and we actually had to live in the moment and experience the concert. I guess some nostalgia is conveniently forgotten.
Roy Hay, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig of Culture Club
The setlist was:
Church of the Poison Mind / It’s A Miracle / I’ll Tumble 4 Ya / Let Somebody Love You / Everything I Own / Like I Used To / Move Away / Black Money / Victims / Human Zoo / Time (Clock of the Heart) / Different Man / Miss Me Blind / I Just Want To Be Loved / The Crying Game / Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? / More Than Silence
From left to right: Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, Gary Kemp and Tony Hadley – Spandau Ballet!
This much is true – to say I loved every second of Spandau Ballet’s first full concert in New York in 30 years is an understatement. The British quintet played a sold out show at New York’s legendary Beacon Theatre on May 2, 2015 and everything about the night was legendary.
Tony Hadley and Steve Norman
Aside from being a fan of Spandau Ballet since I was young, lead singer Tony Hadley was the first rock star I ever did a phone interview with (which you can read here and here), which is something I will probably never entirely get over, and at the time he was doing a solo tour where he exclusively added “Chant No. 1” to his setlist for readers of According2g.com! I also want to throw out there that if you can hear Tony Hadley’s cover of “Life on Mars” by David Bowie, he sings the hell out of that chours and you should really try to track it down because it’s amazing. But I digress… Seeing that show made me fall in love with Spandau Ballet all over again and I kept hope alive that they would one day tour the USA again. On May 2, all New York fans got their wish and Spandau Ballet reunited for their first show in 30 years!
Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet
If you know nothing of the group, the Spandau Ballet story has been depicted in the excellent documentary “Soul Boys of the Western World,” and in it, you’ll hear about their global success with massive hits such as “True” and “Gold,” as well as their 20 year hiatus, which saw an acrimonious break up over song royalties. They have since patched up their differences and they showed the audience exactly why they became superstars over 30 years ago.
Martin and Gary Kemp
I am not sure what magic elixir the Soul Boys have tasted from, but they look and sound better than ever. Their 2 hour set was a mutual love fest, as the audience lost their minds when the hits were played and Spandau Ballet seemed so relaxed and humbled by the response of the crowd.
Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet
Tony Hadley’s voice showed no signs of aging and as the night went on, you realize how many of their songs have extremely high notes, and Tony nailed every single one of them flawlessly, and if I may suggest it, I think Tony Hadley’s voice sounds better now than it did on the records! Songs from every stage of their career were played, from the new track “Soul Boy” to their reunion song “Once More” as well as some of their earliest songs such as “Reformation,” “Mandolin” and “The Freeze.”
Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet
The “secret weapon” of the band is Steve Norman who not only played those amazing sax solos you remember from so many Spandau hits, but he also sang back up, played guitar and percussion!
Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet
In between playing global smashes like “Communication,” “Highly Strung,” “Only When You Leave,” “To Cut A Long Story Short,” “Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On),” “Instinction,” “Lifeline,” “True” and “Gold” (which was played both acoustically and with the full band – and made the audience go absolutely bonkers both times), Tony Hadley played a bit of percussion.
Gary Kemp promised the crowd that it will not be another 30 years before we get to see Spandau Ballet perform again and I speak for all Spandau fans by saying “YES!!!!!!!” When the show was over, the audience didn’t want to see the band go, and the crowd rushed the stage and the band shook hands with members of the audience for several minutes before retreating back stage. Despite having seen Eric Clapton the night before in concert, this was the most fun I’ve had at a show in quite some time.
Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet
Thanks again to the Soul Boys for an amazing night and again, on behalf of all Spandau Ballet fans, we look forward to many more new albums and tours! PS. Original drummer John Keeble is in the band, but I had a bad vantage point to get a decent photo (despite being in the 5th row), so apologies that he is not pictured.
The setlist was: Soul Boy / Highly Strung / Only When You Leave / How Many Lies? / Round and Round / This Is the Love / Steal / Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) / Reformation / Mandolin / Confused / The Freeze / To Cut a Long Story Short / Raw / Glow / Empty Spaces / Gold (acoustic) / Once More / I’ll Fly For You / Instinction / Communication / Lifeline / True.
A few weeks ago, Pet Shop Boys brought their extremely visual and super awesome “Electric Tour” to New York’s Beacon Theatre. I of course loved every minute of the show (and I went both nights) and one of the highlights was the visual extravaganza during the song “Fluorescent” off their excellent latest album “Electric.” Many times the lights and lasers were so powerful, it nearly made my camera explode and several times, people having a conversation instead of paying attention to the show may be in the frame, so ignore that and enjoy this fabulous song!
On September 17, 2013, Pet Shop Boys closed out their sold out 2 night stand at New York’s Beacon Theatre. On the first night (see close up photos and full review at this link, which will open in a new window). As I stated in that review, casual fans heard many of the classic Pet Shop Boys hits (such as “West End Girls,” “Always On My Mind,” “Suburbia,” “It’s A Sin,” “Domino Dancing” and “Rent”). Die-hards got to hear rarely performed songs (such as “Fugitive,” “One More Chance,” “I’m Not Scared,” “Miracles,” and “I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too).” And everyone got to hear all of these great songs plus see a visual extravaganza!
Pet Shop Boys
I had a front balcony seat for the second night, which worked out well because I really got to see all the amazing visuals that Pet Shop Boys utilized for the Electric tour and I’m grateful to have experienced the show really close up as well as sitting a little further back to really take in the entire stage set up.
Pet Shop Boys
At the meet and greet, word had obviously gotten back to Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe that nearly every fan was upset that you could not take photos with them. The PSB have typically been a band who go out of their way to make their fans happy (in the form of performing rare gems to keep it interesting, always releasing non-album tracks, putting out cool packaging for their product, etc.), but for some reason, they WILL NOT TAKE PHOTOS WITH FANS! They repeated this mantra over and over again that it was almost to the point of irritation. I am not sure what the problem is since people are allowed to take photos during the show, bands much bigger than Pet Shop Boys (not a diss, just a fact from my thousands of experiences meeting famous people) have no problem with it (or at least appease their fans because they know how happy it will make them), but hopefully Neil and Chris will soften their harsh view and give the die-hards the one thing they really want on the next time around. Neil even said to me “we may not do meet and greets next time because everyone is complaining.” That is so un-Pet Shop Boys to be so bitchy about something that is such a no-brainer. But I digress…
Pet Shop Boys with Example
Enjoy the visuals from the Electric Tour. I sure did!
Pet Shop Boys
Opening act/DJ/producer Stuart Price aka Jacques Lu Cont.
Stuart Price aka Jacques LuCont
Pet Shop Boys
Thanks PSB! I heart you!!!
Pet Shop Boys
The setlist was:
Axis / One More Chance – Face Like That / Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) / Memory of the Future / Fugitive / Integral / I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing / Suburbia / I’m Not Scared / Fluorescent / West End Girls / Somewhere / Leaving / Thursday / Love Etc. / I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too) / Rent / Miracles / It’s a Sin / Domino Dancing / Always on My Mind
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers closed out their sold out 5 night run at New York’s Beacon Theatre on May 26, 2013. Surprisingly with the amount of concerts I go to, this was my first time seeing Tom Petty perform! Needless to say, it was an amazing night on so many levels. Tom Petty is a great show man and just to be in his presence for 2 hours while he sang to us was a thrill. Because this run of shows was played at the relatively intimate Beacon Theatre in comparison to the arenas Petty typically plays when he comes to town, they changed the set list dramatically every night and performed some deep album cuts, a b-side and played some covers of songs that the band all loves.
Tom Petty told the crowd how much he enjoyed these gigs and he said that we definitely picked the best night to come (sorry nights 1-4)! One of the highlights of the show for me was a b-side called “Girl On LSD.” Petty introduced the song saying that he was bored in the studio one night and came up with the song and never thought it would ever be released. It was issued as a b-side and he said that he’s been getting requests ever since to play it. The lyrics were pretty funny and dealt with all these girls that he dated that were addicted to drugs. I also really enjoyed a killer guitar solo on the end of “It’s Good to be King,” from “Wildflowers.”
Mike Campbell and Tom Petty
Typically when I see a legend for the first time in concert, I want to hear the hits, and while Petty did “American Girl,” “Rebels,” “Running Down a Dream,” and “Refugee,” the deep cuts were definitely for die-hards (and it was a great experience to see the Beacon singing along to every word no matter how obscure). Because Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are such great performers, I never found myself missing the hits. In fact, before I knew it, the band was off stage before the encore!
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The covers performed were The Byrds’ “So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star,” “13 Days” by JJ Cale, “Born In Chicago” by Nick Gravenites, “Willin'” by Little Feat and “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” by Petty’s former super group Traveling Wilburys.
The band was tight musically and Tom Petty’s signature voice sounds as great live as it does on wax. Tom Petty is set to do 5 intimate nights in Los Angeles very soon and if you were wise, you’d make sure to be at one of those shows.
Thank you and good night!
Thanks again Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for reminding New York what rock and roll is all about! See the setlist after the jump.