Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CULTURE CLUB TOUR 2016


Culture Club, the British new wave soul group led by the flamboyant, gender-bending vocalist, Boy George, burst on to pop scene and ruled the charts beginning in 1982 before imploding due to in-fighting and George's growing drug addiction a few short years later. The group managed to kiss and make-up for the first time in 1998 and now all the original members (which include Roy Hay on piano and guitar, Mikey Craig on bass and Jon Moss on drums) are on their first major world tour together in fifteen years.

I caught one of their West Coast stops on August 27th at the Hollywood Bowl and the band's sound was greatly enhanced with backing by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra who also opened for the band. The last time I heard George live, during a Halloween event in West Hollywood last year, the singer sounded raspy and had difficulty hitting all the notes.

When the group came out performing "Church of The Poison Mind", the Boy, in the first of three costume changes, wearing a wildly colorful, over-sized hat with matching suit, was in fine voice with three amazing female vocalists helping to fill out the song. Their hits came in a steady stream with "I'll Tumble 4 Ya", "It's a Miracle", "Time ( Clock of The Heart)" and "Miss Me Blind". Culture Club even performed a couple of songs from Boy George's solo efforts with his versions of Bread's "Everything I Own" and "The Crying Game".

During one of the costume changes, there was a surprising and quite moving moment with a brief musical tribute to David Bowie. As images of the late singer from his Ziggy days flashed on video screens, the band performed "Life on Mars?" as an instrumental with backing from the L.A. Phil which sounded amazing.

The Boy was in good spirits, making jokes about our political race and announcing some of the famous faces in the crowd (which included Sting as he told a silly, semi-uncomfortable story about him) although he appeared to almost get in to some sort of scuffle with a person in the front row but quickly dismissed them. It seems the notoriously feisty singer has actually mellowed with time.

The show closed with a re-working of their minor 1984 hit, "The War Song" which George recalls the group receiving a lot of flak back then for the over-simplistic message but now quite proud of how timely the tune has become. Culture Club came back out by audience demand and performed an encore of their best-known song, "Karma Chameleon" and closing the evening with a hard rocking cover of T. Rex's "Bang a Gong (Get It On)". It was a really fun trip back down Memory Lane with one of my favorite bands of the '80's.

Here is the music video for "It's a Miracle" which featured highlights of the group's career at that point:



And here is Culture Club performing live recently in Australia one of favorites songs, "Black Money", which George said during our show that he has no idea what it means. And he wrote the song:

TAKE TWO: TEDDY PENDERGRASS

Back in the '70's, if you wanted to create a sexy mood, all you had to do was turn down the lights, pop open a bottle of wine and...