Review By Cassandra Hale
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!
Celebrating 47 years as a band, we were honoured to have Berlin opening the nights proceedings. It was a huge bucket list tick for me to see them after having their faces grace my wall as a teenager. From the get-go they were red hot, Terri Nunn looking smashing in a red layered corset arrangement showing she still had the goods. Opening with Masquerade they were off and running, well maybe not running as Terri had ‘done a hami’ when she ventured too deep in the splits at a previous show. But you get my drift, No More Words had me up and about as it was a personal favourite and it seemed I was not alone. The screens behind the band flashing with pictures and film clips for the duration of the set as the worked their way through Metro and Animal. Another fan favourite was Dancing In Berlin, this saw Terri take to the crowd for a dance, what a wonderful and welcome surprise getting such an up-close experience. Dancing with Terri as she nabs your mobile phone and makes it a ‘live in the moment’ experience for one lucky fan was such a fun element to the set.
Touching on her mother’s passing and the song she wrote about her experience was Transcendance, what a beautiful song and the big screens radiated family photos of her mum over her life. The 2019 album of the same name is a real belter and one I suggest you check out. It was time for the one every person in Rod Laver was waiting for, made famous by Top Gun back in 1986, Take My Breath Away. Starting with a surreal a cappella intro Berlin literally did take our breath away with this stunning rendition of the mega hit. Terri still hitting the high notes with ease and replicating the classic to perfection, accompanied on vocals by Dave Diamond who was sensational all night.
A ripping cover of their favourite Aussie band AC/DC’s Highway To Hell saw Rod Laver come to life as the punters sang with appreciation. Did they do it justice, a big hell yes, they were rocking it from start to finish, Terri’s big voice never wavering. Sex saw out the set and I was left completely satisfied; I just hope they make the trip down under again, they will be welcomed with open arms.
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 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 trademark hat and ensemble of blue, black and white Picasso-ish jacket Boy George wowed us right from the start, add to this Mickey and Roy and you have Culture Club in all their glory. Opening with a cheeky cover of Sympathy For The Devil, and then the iconic It’s A Miracle, it was pure joy for the fans, immediately swept up in memories that are evoked by Culture Club’s amazing music. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, and Move Away 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 another cover and one that Boy George has certainly put his stamp on, Everything I Own, it had the fans singing along as the coloured lights lit up the arena. Eyeliner Voodoo was a terrific addition, George talking of his early days when he was the only one who wore eyeliner, “and look at you now!” he chuckled. Then they backed it 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 number ones all over the world.
The musicians and backup singers all amazing and with backing vocalist Roxy Yarnold celebrating her birthday Boy George dedicated That’s The Way from the iconic Colour By Numbers to her. They sang in tandem with Roxy hitting all the high notes with gusto, what a talent she is. 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 accepted so in turn others can feel free to express themselves openly. George’s 1000 kilowatt smile was infectious, he was so happy to be performing with his friends for life Roy and Mikey, with lots of cheeky banter and laughter constantly ringing out.
Letting Things Go, Angel Of Mercy and Melodrama were all well received the later being co written with Vangelis Polydorou who strutted the stage in a cloud of glitter and platform boots all night. Being wrangled by Boy George from the UK version of The Voice he had the pipes of an angel and was a fabulous addition to the band. It was then time to ramp up the hits with Church Of The Poison Mind which had a delicious mash up of Wham!’s I’m your Man dropped straight in the middle, Time and Miss Me Blind the perfect trifecta to see out the set. We all knew there would be just a few more and waited patiently with a bit of cheering and feet stomping to get George’s attention.
Culture Club return with Boy George now sporting a yellow hat, and polka dot shirt in black and yellow to match, ever the fashionista! Get It On opened the encore and this was one that Culture Club have refined to suit their sound and is always a welcome addition to the set list.
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. The booming drums were an absolute showstopper, the sound resonating around the arena having a huge impact on all. Karma Chameleon was the one we were all waiting for, 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. Hopefully they will be back again, it really would be the best present one could ask for.