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
Oh Boy! I have been blessed to see the legendary Boy George twice in the last 48 hours.
When I was young and impressionable (yes, can you believe there was a time when that was the case!) and when I had strange feelings that made me start to think “I wasn’t normal,” I had someone like Boy George who dressed as he wanted to, said what he wanted to and refused to compromise to look up to as a role model, and for that, I am so grateful!!! From the earliest stages of his career to present day, Boy George does not give a fuck what you think and never minces words. Those are two qualities that are I still admire to this day and I definitely live my life in that way. There are a lot of haters out there (like people that have nothing better to do than go on According2g.com and leave shitty comments, but THANK YOU for keeping me on the tip of your mind so passionately and for your patronage), so this is for you. Imagine what you could achieve if you channel that hatred elsewhere into something productive? So this song is for you – the song of course is “Victims,” a Culture Club cover that Boy George performed at Irving Plaza in New York on April 22, 2014. Put a little love in your heart. You might be surprised! xx
BOY GEORGE! Performing a way sold out show on April 22, 2014 at New York’s Irving Plaza, Boy George took to the Manhattan stage for the first time in over a decade (not counting DJ gigs) and it was a night to remember! Kicking off the show by playing his new album “This is What I Do,” Boy George played a beefy 24 song set that covered the musical gamut from reggae to country and back to rock, covers from Yoko Ono (“Death of Samantha”) and Bread (“Everything I Own”) to Lou Reed (“Satellite of Love”), T. Rex (“Get it On (Bang A Gong)” and Bob Dylan (“It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Make You Feel My Love”) plus a handful of Culture Club classics (“Church of the Poison Mind,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” “Victims” and his solo hit “Bow Down Mister”)! His new album, if you haven’t already gotten it, is very diverse musically and George’s band kicked out the jams that feature extremely mature and spiritual lyrics. George quoted Eckhart Tolle telling the crowd to stay in the now and songs included “Feel the Vibration,” “Live Your Life” and George proclaimed that “love is bigger than war” during the track “Bigger Than War.” George, who seemed happy to be back on the New York stage soaked up the love that the crowd (which included Miss Guy and Debbie Harry) was showering him with. He told funny anecdotes in between songs and thanked the crowd for not talking too loudly to each other during the new songs. He especially thanked the crowd for supporting his new album.
When he got to “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” he went off on the crowd for taking invasive cell phone photos and video saying that “if he wanted the video to go up on youtube, he’d film it with a crew himself and not make us do it.” I was up in the VIP section in the balcony (not using flash, nor blocking the crowd trying to take annoying iPhone videos, nor being close enough to distract or annoy the performer) and I got the whole thing on video. Should I post it? You decide and let us know in the comments section. I was near the soundboard, so I was far from being invasive, but it’s a fine line you walk when you want to get the video out to the people and also want to respect the wishes of an artist you’ve loved for three decades!!! I did, however, post a video of the classic “Karma Chameleon” which immediately segued into a cover of T. Rex’ “Get It On (Bang A Gong).” Excuse me for a minute while my inner child freaks the fuck out for a little bit!
Now that I’ve regained my composure, can I just say on behalf of New York, please come back and play for us more regularly! We’ve missed you desperately George! If we have to rely on the thinly talented RuPaul as a hero in the gay community, we are seriously doomed! xx
And now… “Karma Chameleon” and “Get It On.” Just press play.
Boy George Irving Plaza Set List
The set list (despite the picture) was:
King of Everything / Death of Samantha (Yoko Ono cover) / Any Road (George Harrison cover) / My God / Feel the Vibration / Love and Danger / Live Your Life / Bigger Than War / Nice and Slow / My Star / It’s Easy / It Ain’t Me Babe (Bob Dylan cover) / Satellite of Love (Lou Reed cover) / Turn on a Little Light for Me / Church of the Poison Mind (Culture Club cover).
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? (Culture Club cover) / Everything I Own (Bread cover) / Karma Chameleon (Culutre Club cover) / Get It On (Bang a Gong) (T. Rex cover) / Bow Down Mister
Play Me / Victims (Culture Club cover) / Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan cover)
Photo and autograph courtesy of my obtained in-person autograph collection.
My "Colour by Numbers" by Culture Club CD, autographed by Boy George
I don’t know how it’s possible that Boy George is 50 today, but it’s true. The front man of Culture Club has always been one of my heroes. I grew up in the 80s and Boy George was such an inspiration in my life. In a time when it was practically verboten to be flamboyant, let alone be outspoken and unapologetic for being yourself, there was Boy George dressing in drag, on the cover of every magazine, all over the TV and making great music along the way. Looking back, I remember so many people that were anti-gay, but there they were singing along to the words of hits such as “Time (Clock of the Heart),” “It’s A Miracle,” “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” and “Karma Chameleon.” It was the first time in my life where people listened to the music and ignored the personal details. For my generation, Boy George was a pioneer in breaking down the barriers for gay people to not have to live their lives in the closet.
When I saw Culture Club in concert for the first time, the audience was comprised of every type of person on the planet! Everyone at the concert came not to express hatred for their differences, but instead, it was one of the biggest love-fests I’ve ever seen in my life. The show was great and afterwards, I met Boy George. He had his hands full and I thought my chances at getting a signature were not going to happen. I decided to ask anyway and Boy George said, “Listen cutie, let me put this stuff down and I’ll be right back.” True to his word, a moment later he came back and gladly signed a few albums for me! I’ve never gotten over it. All I can say again is thanks so much George for all the music you’ve given the world, thanks for giving so many people the courage to live out and proud and on a personal note, thanks for giving me a memory I still think about 20 years after it happened! Happy birthday! xx