GIG REVIEW: Culture Club, Belinda Carlisle, Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey at the SSE Arena


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 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.

  • Picture by Anh Vu-Attewell via Facebook courtesy Culture Club. Tickets
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  1. James · November 18, 2018

    I don’t understand what you say about the Heaven gig. It was in 2014, not 2015.,It was well received at the time and they did play Karma Chameleon their biggest hit, as they always do. Back then they also performed new songs.

    And why didn’t you mention that Jon Moss is no longer performing with the band, so it’s not a true reunion now. If I see Culture Club I want to see the whole band. I don’t think they should continue recording and touring unless they can resolve their issues with Jon.


    • mrmonstagigz · November 18, 2018

      Fake news! Apologies – it was a gig that was pre-monstagigz and we were relying on memory rather than written review, never the most accurate response. Our recollection is that there were old favourites that weren’t played and a sense that the band was a bit prickly – but it was definitely 2014. Doesn’t time (Clock Of the Heart) fly? What are the band’s issues with Jon?


  2. James · November 20, 2018

    I personally would have the opposite criticism of them. They always play mostly the same songs. If yoy’ve never seen them they are great, but to see them over and over it’s a bit boring because their set lists are so similar. The review says the not heard enough Do you Really yet they play that at every gig too.,
    I’m not sure exactly what the issues with Jon are. George claims he is on a break to spend time with his children yet they are grown adults. The tabloids say he was fired. He left at the same time Paul Kemsley became the manager of the whole band not just George so I think those are connected.,


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