Updated: Feb 5
On Saturday 17th November 2018, many music fans, myself included, were taken back to the 80s as the iconic Culture Club, led by the multi-talented Boy George, came to Newcastle Upon Tyne as part of their mind blowing UK tour. For me, I have always enjoyed an eclectic mix of music and whilst I may have been a little nipper during the peak of Culture Club’s popularity, due to having an older brother I was able to discover the revolutionary style of music that Culture Club had to offer. So as you can imagine, the thought of being invited to the 2018 Culture Club UK tour was quite an exciting prospect that I wasn’t going to miss.
Obviously, no show is ever complete without the inclusion of the support artists, who I always see as being monumental in helping the crowds that turn up early, especially to get in the feel-good party mood. This night was no different, so keeping with the 80s theme, the first artist on stage was Tom Bailey from ‘The Thompson Twins’. Now I will be honest, at first I was a little bit unsure who he was, but it wasn’t long till he drew the crowd in and got them singing along. Probably the most well-known song in his collection being ‘Doctor! Doctor!’,
which I must admit made my eyes light up when I heard it playing. Overall, the performance of Tom Bailey was quite charismatic as, even though he may have been playing at the start of the night, he nevertheless brought the fun and the energy, and for those popular well songs especially, successfully managed to get the audience engaged.
With Tom Bailey leaving the stage on a high as the house lights come on for a quick interlude, I have a quick scan of the arena from my seat and can see the venue starting to fill up quite nicely, with such energy and excitement as the fans know this is set to be one truly special night. After 20-25 mins or so – enough time to pop out for a quick comfort break and maybe get yourself a pint, a gin, take a cheeky peek at the official merchandise on sale (or if you’re like me all of the above), it was time for our next support artist of the night – the wonderful Belinda Carlisle. Most people will no doubt know Belinda better from her time as front lady for all-female band ‘The Go-Go’s’, before she branched out and concentrated more on her solo career. From the very moment she came on stage, she had such positivity and although she may not of interacted with the crowd as much as Tom, she put on a great set.
Although, personally I would not necessarily be a huge fan of her music, I, nevertheless, was able to listen and watch with appreciation. I found it so nostalgic and nice to be able to witness songs such as ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ and ‘I Get Weak’, being performed live by the lady herself.
So two nice support artists – Tom Bailey and Belinda Carlisle. The adrenaline levels and the tones of excited and colourful chatter are at a high, which means only one thing; we have reached the point in the night we have all been waiting for – Culture Club!
The lights go down, the shouts and cheers increase tenfold (hey, its Culture Club so I don’t blame you) and with a very impressive stage production of visuals and lights, one by one each member of the Culture Club team enters the stage, followed finally by a silhouette of the one and only Boy George. A quick greeting to the audience before beginning this night of fabulous music with God & Love. Everyone’s eyes are fixed on the stage, and it isn’t long before people have their phones out or are on their feet ready to dance along to the fun that is to come.
For me, it’s is quite a special moment too, because as much as I have heard Culture Club on the radio, The TV and know the odd tune or two, there is nothing better than seeing the band you have heard so much about with your own eyes. To use the phrase ‘WOW’ would be an understatement- if I had gone with a friend or a significant other I would probably of been asking them to pinch me ha!
“So, what were some of the tracks that were played on this magnificent hour and a half set?” I hear you cry. We had a mixture of songs such as ‘Let Somebody Love You’, ‘Different Man’ and also for those wanting a true bit of a trip back, ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’. What really intrigued me about this set as it progressed, was that this wasn’t just your average show where you have a bunch of big hits, but an opportunity to go on a journey with Boy George and see first-hand how Culture Club has evolved to be the band that they are today.
I always wondered what it would be like to meet Boy George if ever I was in the same room as him, and I have to say, even though he was on the stage and I was watching from my seat, he has such a lovely and charming personality. A very gracious person with a down to earth personality, which is one of kindness and good vibes. Whenever I see him on the TV giving an interview he always looks so stylish, and at this show too he was dressed so well with a touch of sparkle and sassiness. I am sure many of you will agree with me when I say that what made Boy George and Culture Club different to the other musicians of their era, was that they were not afraid to embrace who they were as people. The 80s may seem like a life time ago, but it was a time where things were quite different in terms of prejudice and discrimination, and we are lucky that society has started to mature since then. So to have the likes of Boy George and Culture Club use music as a way to stand up against such intolerance, in my eyes, can only be seen as an inspiration.
Getting back to the show then, and it was quite an amazing experience thus far. For me, however, there were a couple of main highlights. First - the moment when he showed his thanks and appreciation to another iconic mind, David Bowie. It was truly touching to hear how David Bowie was the first ever live show he experienced when he was only 11 years old, having managed to persuade his dad. Boy George said as he looked out into the crowd with a smile in his voice, “no idea how I managed to convince my dad to go to that ha ha!”. The second highlight of the set was when Boy George introduced us all to his team on stage. There is just no stopping his kindness, as he has a huge respect and admiration for everyone around him, which gives him such a priceless quality, which makes you appreciate him even more, not just a musician but a person as well.
With time ticking away, it was almost that time of the night to wrap things up. To keep the spirits going high in the room, Culture Club spoiled us with a little melody in the form of a ‘Church of The Poison Mind’ and ‘I’m Your Man’, a cover of ‘WHAM!’. It certainly got every single member of the audience on their feet.
Ending on a high the band left the stage. But you know us music fans, we want more, and true to tradition that is exactly what the crowds of the Metro Radio Arena on this mesmerising November evening demanded. We have already had just over an hour and a bit of incredible music- can it get any better? Of course it can darling, remember, this is Culture Club we are talking about! Not wanting to disappoint, everyone re-entered the stage for an encore, which took the adrenaline to a whole new level.
Again, the nice selection of tracks on offer included a cover of David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ and also T-Rex’s ‘Get It On’ – a nod to the people who Boy George had such huge respect for. I am not usually a fan of covers, but this was done with such energy that you would be a fool not to dance along. It was now as sad as it was time to say a final goodnight, but not without Culture Club giving us one final trip, in sheer style, back to the 80’s. None other than the song which was so iconic to many generations even to this day, ‘Karma Chameleon’. You can hear it 100 times on the radio, but nothing beats hearing it played live in the likes of the Metro Radio Arena.
It is safe to say, that seeing Culture Club live was one of the best experiences I have ever had the privilege of having. Just thinking about it now is making me want to relive the night all over again. What a night! If there was one sentence to sum it up it would be, a journey of dreams and inspiration. Wishing Boy George & Culture Club nothing but good vibes and kindness. Love always.
Article By Thushara