WORTH A LOOK?: ****
TTTB SETLIST: We Are Detective; Love On Your Side; Science Fiction: You Take Me Up; Lies; Lay Your Hands On Me; Doctor! Doctor!; Hold Me Now
WHEN?: 14/11/18, tour runs to 8/12/18
He may have been 3rd on the bill but Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey won a deserved acapella audience singalong of the chorus to 1983 classic Hold Me Now after his all-women band had finished it.
- Read on for reasons including reviews of Belinda Carlisle and Culture Club
Note: this review was updated on 18/11/18 to reflect the comments below
They may have taken the stage at the arena-unfriendly time of 7pm but their 8-song, 40-minute set – mostly of 80s chart smashes – has aged well.
Bailey occasionally reminds of contemporary Howard jones as he noodles on his keyboard, occasionally veering perilously close to prog rock, while struggling sometimes to sing in tune.
But the bold pop strokes of the set (including the title track of the fine new Science Fiction album) were well suited to the party atmosphere typified by the appearance of a large red inflatable ball that Bailey throws into the throng.
If we’re honest, we do miss Bailey’s side kicks, co-writers Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway, but the hits, in particular the aforementioned Hold plus a brilliant Doctor! Doctor! and Love On Your Side, prove they are as fresh as they were more than 30 years ago.
BC SETLIST: Live Your Live Be Free; I Get Weak; In Too Deep; Circle In The Sand; Summer Rain; Big Scary Animal; We Want The Same Thing; Heaven Is A Place On Earth
We’ve seen Belinda Carlisle a few times over the years and what we enjoyed most here was her choice of material, Deep and Animal weren’t obvious selections but worked well, and she was in enthusiastic voice.
We would’ve been even more pleased if she’d plundered the back catalogue of the group she used to front, the Go Gos.
CC SETLIST: God and Love; It’s A Miracle; Let Somebody Love You; Time (Clock Of the Heart); Runaway Train; Everything I Own; Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?; Victims; Different Man; Miss me Blind; Church of the Poison Mind/I’m Your Man; Life; Let’s Dance; Get it On; Karma Chameleon
We last saw Culture Club as they reformed in 2014 for a difficult Heaven gig when they didn’t appear to be enjoying it and wouldn’t play all their hits.
The earlier run of reggae numbers, especially the beautiful visuals accompanying the not-heard-often-enough and career-making Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, thrill and prove what a class live act they can be when they put their minds to it.
Tonight the visuals, including footage from their early 80s gender-bending heyday, enhances the best of their back catalogue and Poison Mind‘s mash-up with a Wham! chart-topper was a highlight.
Boy George remains a terrifically watchable character and his loathing of mobile phones (‘No one needs another badly taken photograph of me from below’ he complains at 1 point) is a delight.
Karma Chamaleon is the show closer but not before George has paid tribute to 2 of his idols even reminiscing about his first ever gig, Bowie at the now-no-more Lewisham Odeon, when he was aged just 11 years and 11 months.
We think part of the reason the band seems happier is that the arrival of the new Life album has freshened things up for them.
We can’t wait for the next album and tour already.