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Culture Club: It was a huge party in the Church of the Poison Mind

Boy George and Culture Club | RAC Arena | 5th Sept | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

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Boy George and Culture Club appear to be constantly on tour. On Tuesday night they brought their party vibes to RAC Arena, marking their fourth visit to Perth since 2016.

The show was a joyous party which had the crowd on their feet, clapping and singing along.

Sometimes when you see bands whose were at their peak decades ago, you find yourself wishing you’d seen them way-back-when. This is not Culture Club, their live show today is brilliant. Featuring some very talented musicians and updated song arrangements that showcase their work at its finest.

Neither is this a show where it’s a cash-in on past successes, as Boy George declared to an enamored crowd, you’re going to hear “the hits, and more.” Joking with the audience that if they didn’t recognise the tune, it’s the “and more” section of the show.

While bands will often drop in a new song from their latest album, Culture Club’s show was peppered with new songs, not yet released, and deep album cuts too. Much like their recent appearances in Perth where audiences got to fall in love with tunes from their Life album before it’s 2018 release, Culture Club showed they’ve got more music to come in the future.

One obvious change this time round though is the band has lost a member. They are now a trio. Jon Moss left the group in 2018 and the four members have only recently reached an out of court settlement that sorted out their differences.

First up on the bill was Berlin, a band largely remembered for their massive 1986 single Take My Breath Away which featured in the film Top Gun. As we headed into the auditorium my companion and I tried to remember any other songs by Berlin – we’re both massive music fans, we were both teenagers in the 1980s – we couldn’t think of any.

Lead singer Terri Nunn took the stage with her distinctive two-tone black and blonde hair and showed that she still has one hell of a powerful voice. The band worked through their rock-pop material including Masquerade, No More Words, and the obligatory Top Gun tune.

Animal a more recent tune from the band was a pleasant surprise, and the crowd really got excited when they delivered a thumping rendition of AC/DC’s classic Highway to Hell.

They wrapped up their performance with an energetic rendition of Sex (I’m A…) from their 1982 album Pleasure Victim. The tune sees Nunn sharing vocals with band founder John Crawford.

Culture Club arrived, starting their set with a cover of The Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil. They quickly created a party vibe whipping through some of their hugest hits including It’s a Miracle, and I’ll Tumble 4 Ya. 

Alongside Boy George, Roy Hay and Mikey Craig there was a talented line up of musicians including vocalists Roxy Yarnold and Vangelis Polydorou. Both additional vocalists had many moments where they got to stand in the spotlight and be the centre of the action.

Polydorou, who first came to attention on The Voice UK performing a Culture Club tune when Boy George was serving as a coach, was catching everyone’s attention due to his sheer and sparkling outfit, but he also got to show off his impressive vocals performing a duet with Boy George. Their tune Melodrama was released just a fortnight ago. Boy George joked with the audience that the song was actually about Australian The Voice alum Sheldon Riley.

Let It Go and Angel of Mercy were new songs played to a Perth audience for the first time, and the band’s newest material is just as strong as their classic hits. We were also treated to one of Boy George’s solo hits. His reggae cover of Bread’s Everything I Own kicked off his solo career back in 1987.

The singer commented on the passage of time, noting that he’s now 62 years old. “Thank God for rock and roll, and foundation” Boy George said.

A stunning performance of Do You Really Want to Hurt Me was preceded by Boy George reflecting on how the band’s first two single’s failed to sell. When the record company suggested Do You Really Want to Hurt Me as their next single, the band thought it was a terrible idea. Too slow, too personal. It was their first number one hit, and a global smash.

The powerful and emotional Victims was followed up with That’s the Way (I’m Only Trying to Help You), an album track. Both from their massive Colour by Numbers album from 1983.

The party vibes revved up with Church of the Poison Mind, which was amalgamated with Wham’s I’m Your Man. The inclusion of a song from the other George who came to fame in the 1980’s got a rapturous cheer. A funky delivery of Time (Clock of the Heart) continued the celebration, before we reached the crescendo of Miss Me Blind. 

The encore began with a rendition of T-Rex’s Get It On (Bang a Gong) which the band often feature, before they launched into Karma Chameleon. A song the band released exactly forty years ago to the day.    

Four decades into their musical journey Boy George and Culture Club are having a wild time, playing the best shows of their careers, and surprising us still. The tour is now heading to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelade and Brisbane.

Graeme Watson, Images: Duncan Barnes 


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