It was a sight fit for a King or a Queen if you are that way inclined, as I made my way to Rod Laver Arena for a night of 80’s inspired tunes. Many decked out in full Culture Club regalia, some just happy in their own skin, and if that meant hairy legs with high heels, so be it. If you asked me to describe the devoted fans flocking in, my answer would be extravagantly colourful!
Quite a few tuned out early to check out Hoseah who recently came to light on The Voice Australia as part of Team Boy George. He gave us a lovely 20 minute set with the voice of an angel filtering out for all to enjoy. I am certain there are big things ahead for this talented young man.
It wouldn’t be an 80’s party without a little something from the Eurogliders, they put on a terrific performance for all to enjoy over the next 40 minutes. Grace Knight shining in one of her multi-coloured suits she is so well known for. Vocally and musically outstanding we got all the hits including, We Will Together, Can’t Wait To See You and Absolutely. Finishing out the set with the chart topper Heaven, which turned into a fabulous sing-a-long for all to enjoy. Then as the band downed their instruments the song finished out in a beautiful a cappella rendition as they left the stage.
Rod Laver was warming up and ready for the next 80’s instalment. Enter Tom Bailey and band, Tom being one third of 80’s sensation The Thompson Twins who were synonymous for many huge hits back in the day. With his band consisting of three lovely young ladies all dressed in white and himself also sporting a white suit and glasses they were off and delivering 80’s joy for all to hear. Opening with Lies, Tom showed his versatility swapping from drums to keys, guitar and even some sneaky harmonica and tambourine over the course of the set.
A huge blue ball was launched into the crowd much to their delight and after a fair bashing it ended up in the photographers pit, which nearly caused some carnage for the unaware snappers, but it was quickly captured and released back stage. King For A Day, Lay Your Hand On Me and Doctor Doctor all featuring on the night’s bill. The big screen working in overdrive to accompany the fabulous music and if you closed your eyes you could almost believe you were at the local blue light disco feeling fifteen again. Hold Me Now was the perfect closer, the swelling crowd on their feet loving every minute. We were treated to another sing/clap-a-long of Hold Me Now, Warm My Heart, Stay With Me, the lyrics we all know so well sung in unison, and I must say on reflection, we all sounded pretty damn good.
Calling Australia his second home it was no surprise that we were being spoilt with another live concert by Boy George and Culture Club, the third in as many years. The buzz was electric as the lights went down, screaming fans waiting for their first glimpse of their 80’s idols, Rod Laver erupted as they took to the stage. Looking fabulous in his yellow hat and ensemble of red, back and yellow to match, Boy George wowed us right from the start, add to this Mickey, Roy and Jon and you have Culture Club in all their glory. Opening with Bitchface, and then the iconic Church Of The Poison Mind, it was pure joy for the fans, immediately swept up in memories that are evoked by Culture Club’s amazing music. It’s a Miracle, I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, and Time all sublime with some lovely images flooding the screen from film clips and photos from across the years.
Featuring in Culture Club’s last three show was Different Man based on Sly Stone one of Boy George’s biggest influences, followed by the smash hit Miss Me Blind which had the fans singing and clapping eager for more. The mash up of You Can’t Always Get what You Want/Walk On The Wild Side was terrific and backed up with one of Culture Club’s biggest hits, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me. A song that the boys didn’t want to put out as a single but lucky for them the record label had other ideas and it sent them flying to stardom with numbers ones all over the world.
Boy George now sporting a red hat, shirt and shoes to match, ever the fashionista! I would have liked a bit more lighting as I felt I couldn’t really see Boy George’s face as well I would have liked but the pristine sound more than made up for what may have been just my aging eyes.
The musicians and backup singers all amazing and while Boy George stated it would be a night of “jetlag and optimism” it certainly didn’t show. The band faultless all night bringing endless energy and Boy George had his usual free spirit shining. You could feel the love and devotion so many have for Boy George, a man who has walked the hard road to be excepted so in turn others can feel free to express themselves openly.
As Roy took to the keyboard I knew Victims would be next, it is my personal favourite and a song that I hold very close to my heart. I held back tears as Boy George delivered this beautiful song, a definite standout for me. Jon’s booming drums were an absolute show stopper, the sound resinating around the arena having a huge impact on all. The War Song saw out the first set, but we knew Karma Chameleon was waiting in the wings, and they were no sooner off the stage and they were back to give the screaming fans what they wanted. Karma Chameleon then a stunning rendition of Purple Rain that rendered everyone speechless. The closer of the night was an awesome cover of Get It On. The crowd were singing and dancing not wanting it to end, but they certainly had made enough memories in this one evening to last a lifetime.
Culture Club really is the gift that keeps on giving, with every tour we get to unwrap another layer, and with Boy George saying they will be back, it really is the best present one could ask for.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale