Reviewed by John McEvoy
Let’s face it, 2020 for obvious reasons is going to be a year that we will all want to forget, and as we approach Christmas, I think we all needed something to brighten things up, even for just an hour or so, and Culture Club met this brief and then some.
Originally planned for the Albert Hall in November, then switched to the SSE Arena Wembley on the 19thDec, and then at the last minute changed to strictly online due to the Tier 4 restrictions, this was a wallow in nostalgia that just for once could be allowed.
For those of you who weren’t around in the early 80’s, it’s difficult to explain just how huge Culture Club were at the time, and with Boy George as the frontman, once seen they were never forgotten. Of equal importance was the impact Boy George had on the nations psyche in being at the vanguard of breaking down barriers for the gay community.
Culture Club took to the stage at 10:00pm and it was good to see that the original line up minus drummer Jon Moss were still in fine form. and the years have clearly been kind to both Mikey Craig on bass and Roy Hay on guitar.
George himself was also at the top of his game, and if anything, his voice now sounds a little bassier and richer.
The set itself was mainly made up the old classics from their first two albums, ‘Kissing To Be Clever’ 1982, and ‘Colour By Numbers’ 1983. Their biggest selling single which was No.1 across the globe for weeks on end dovetailed the set, and their opening reworking of ‘Karma Chameleon’ was an intriguing start to the set.
At this point I can only apologise as I didn’t get the name of the guest vocalist who sang with George on this, but she certainly introduced an interesting dimension to such a well-known song.
As this was a purely online event, the lack of audience feedback seemed strange, but to the bands credit they didn’t let this affect them, and Georges inter song patter was as entertaining as always.
There were a few new songs in the set, with ‘We Are Gathered Here Today’ written in lockdown being one the many highpoints of the gig. My own personal favourites, ‘Time (Clock Of The Heart)’ and the funky ‘Miss Me Blind’ sounded as good ever, and the brass section and backing singers perfectly complimented the band.
‘Church Of The Poisoned Mind’ is still a great Motown workout, and Culture Clubs backing singers supplied a powerhouse delivery of Helen Terrys vocals on the original. Equally impressive was their take on the old T Rex standard, ‘Get It On’, and I’m sure Marc Bolan would have approved.
Of course, no Culture Club gig would be complete without the original version of ‘Karma Chameleon’ and the band duly obliged much to the delight of the online audience if the live comments were anything to go by.
Speaking of which, the global number of people actually watching this gig were, if the figures were correct, simply staggering. At one point there was a global audience in excess of 330,000 watching, which when the capacity at the SSE is 12,500 is nothing short of phenomenal.
However, rest assured, as far as I’m concerned, whilst the gig was enjoyable, it simply can’t replace actually being there in terms of atmosphere, and of course paying a fortune for a beer!
Overall, given how crappy this year has been for a lot of people, a little wallow in nostalgia isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and with luck we will all be able to go to gigs again in 2021, and I for one will certainly be going to see Culture Club.
· Karma Chameleon – New version
· It’s A Miracle
· I’ll Tumble 4 Ya
· Everything I Own
· Move Away
· Time (Clock Of The Heart)
· We Are Gathered Here Today
· Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
· Miss Me Blind
· Rainbow In The Dark
· Church Of The Poisoned Mind
· Girl Gone Bad
· Get It On
- Karma Chameleon