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
On October 14, 2013 the mighty Nine Inch Nails played to a somewhat packed house at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Hitting the stage at 8:45 pm, Trent Reznor and company played for a solid two hours playing tracks that spanned NIN’s catalog from “Head Like A Hole” to songs like “Copy of A” from their latest record “Hesitation Marks.” Criminally, “Closer” and “Only,” two of my favorite Nine Inch Nails songs were absent from the set list, but the light show that accompanied every song more than made up for the set list omissions. As the show went on, each track had more intricate lighting and at times, it felt like you were flying.
I would like to point out that from my seat, I probably sat near one of the best behaved crowds I’ve ever experienced at a concert, which is strange as you would expect lots of craziness at a NIN show. I guess it just goes to show you should never judge a band by their fans. If you remotely like any songs by Nine Inch Nails, you should definitely catch them in concert as you will witness a sound and visual extravaganza. The show nearly gives Pet Shop Boys a run for their money in terms of insane visuals, but I still think the Boys win the prize for the most visually stunning concert of 2013. Nine Inch Nails are a close second though.
Below, you can see a video of their classic “Terrible Lie.” Posting this video is so awesome for me because when NIN were a new act, I could honestly say “it was not my kind of music.” I’ve grown a lot since then and have really opened my mind in hopes to experience as much as possible and judging from the photos I post on this site, I have succeeded. Apologies if the video gets blurry at times. The lighting occasionally made my camera freak out. That is not a terrible lie. This is….
The setlist was:
Copy of A / 1,000,000 / Terrible Lie / March of the Pigs / Piggy / All Time Low / Disappointed / Came Back Haunted / Find My Way / The Frail / The Wretched / Satellite / In Two / Survivalism / Running / A Warm Place / Somewhat Damaged / Wish / Burn / The Hand That Feeds / Head Like A Hole
The Day The World Went Away / Even Deeper / While I’m Still Here / Black Noise / Hurt
Hot new band alert! The UK’s The 1975 played their first of two sold out shows at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom on October 9, 2013. The pop/rock quartet from England have been around for 10 years and 2013 is their break out year. They hit the stage around 10 pm and for a little over an hour, they thrilled the crowd with songs such as “Chocolate,” “Sex” and “The City.” The crowd sung along to most every track and in addition to having stylish haircuts, flashing strobe lights made the show extra fun to watch.
Rather than leave the stage before the encore, lead singer Matt Healy asked the crowd if they could just play straight through and the crowd replied with thunderous applause. All of The 1975’s songs were very catchy, almost made to be placed in films and commercials, so if that appeals to you, check out their music! I spotted the one and only Lindsay Lohan at the show and if you read this blog somewhat regularly (aka, you are one of my heroes), I’m sure you know how that ended. Catch The 1975 again tonight at Bowery Ballroom. No word on if you’ll catch Miss Lindsey there too, but either way, you will have a great time! See the setlist below (featuring drummer George Daniel’s blood – he cut himself during the show, but was a real trooper and played on!)
On September 27, 2013 Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke’s side project Atoms For Peace performed at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Being a die-hard Radiohead fan, of course I loved the show, but there were a few things that definitely puncture a hole in the otherwise untouchable world of all things Radiohead. The show began at 9:15 and for nearly one hour and 45 minutes, Thom Yorke (with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass) and his band used many of Radiohead’s signature techniques to get the crowd going. Personally, I think Thom Yorke’s voice is so beautiful that he could do an a capella show with no backdrop and I’d love it, but why do that when you can use a crazy-ass lighting system (see below)? Yorke danced, played piano and guitar throughout the show, which included songs such as “Default,” “And It Rained All Night,” “Harrowdown Hill,” “Ingenue” and “Black Swan” (as an unlikely final song) and each song was filled with pretty cool visuals (although, the stage set up was surprisingly recycled from the last Atoms for Peace tour).
Atoms For Peace
Surprisingly, the show was nowhere near sold out, and of course, since one should not expect Radiohead songs to be played (and except for “Paperbag Writer,” a Radiohead B-side, none were), that might have been a deterrent from people filling the seats. The floor, which was general admission, was only about half full, but for those of us that were there, it was pretty awesome. The majority of Thom Yorke’s solo album “The Eraser” was played (though the title track was criminally absent) along with the Atoms for Peace record “Amok,” and again, hearing the songs in a stadium setting made me realize the limitations of the tracks. The Atoms for Peace tracks are quite experimental, and in a huge space such as Barclays, keeping everyone’s attention was not something that Yorke and company were particularly successful at. I am always amused at Thom Yorke’s “dance like no one’s looking” moves, which were used throughout the show, and Flea’s “play the bass like your life depends on it” energy, but many times, a few seconds after a song’s intro, hordes of people were getting out of their seats to mill around instead of watch the show. I saw the last Atoms for Peace show in the much smaller Roseland Ballroom a few years ago and that show, even with a lack of Radiohead songs was mindblowing. The Atoms for Peace show at Barclays had its moments but I think the space was way too big for the material that was presented. Perhaps Mr. Yorke’s ego will be deflated a bit after realizing that he is far from perfect and the Atoms for Peace show was a huge reminder of that. I’m sure I am in the minority on this, but that’s why this site is called According 2 G. A video of “Amok” will be coming soon, so stay tuned.
The setlist was:
Before Your Very Eyes / Default / The Clock / Ingenue / Stuck Together Pieces / Unless / And it Rained All Night / Harrowdown Hill / Dropped / Cymbal Rush
Encore 1: Skip Divided / Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses / Rabbit In Your Headlights (UNKLE Cover) / Paperbag Writer (Radiohead Cover) / Amok
On September 23, 2013, The XX played their first of 2 sold out nights at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. After a great set by Polica, The XX hit the stage just about 9:30 PM and for a solid hour and a half, their moody music hypnotized the crowd. One of the great things about The XX, especially in this day and age, is that you can’t really say that their music sounds like anyone else. Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft trade off on vocal duties, sometimes harmonizing with each other, sometimes performing duets and Romy’s tender voice is the perfect compliment to Oliver’s subtle, yet romantic vocals.
Jamie Smith and Romy Madley-Croft of The XX
Since The XX’ music can be quite soft and subdued, they utilized a quite nice light show to compliment their music and add to the chill out vibe that was felt across the entire Radio City Music Hall. Having just seen the Pet Shop Boys, I am a bit spoiled as to what I consider a breath-taking light show, but as I can imagine both bands don’t have much cross over with fans, I looked around to see the crowd mesmerized for the duration of the show. Songs such as “Crystallized,” though extremely mellow, got the crowd on their feet and we remained standing (or swaying) for the rest of the night.
Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim of The XX
Towards the end of the set, it was a powerhouse of some of The XX’ most popular songs, including “Chained,” “VCR” and “Islands,” and these tracks made unlikely, but quite cool crowd sing-a-longs. As The XX was finishing up their set, a huge laser X flashed across the stage. The crowd erupted with applause and returned The XX’ love. Bliss.
The setlist was:
Try / Heart Skipped a Beat / Crystallized / Reunion / Far Nearer / Sunset / Missing / Fiction / Night Time / Swept Away / Shelter / VCR / Islands / Chained / Infinity