WORTH A LOOK?: ****
SETLIST: Karma Chameleon; It’s A Miracle; I’ll Tumble 4 Ya; Everything I Own; Move Away; Time (Clock Of The Heart); We Are Gathered Here Today; Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?; Miss Me Blind; Rainbow In The Dark; Church Of The Poison Mind; Girl Gone Bad; Get It On; Karma Chameleon
The fate of this appropriately titled concert very much mirrored what a difficult year it has been for gigs because of Covid-19 – it was postponed in November because of lockdown, switched from the Royal Albert Hall and at the last minute its socially distanced audience was advised not to attend.
- Read on for reasons including how many new songs the band play tonight
We last saw original group members Boy George, Roy Hay and Mikey Craig at this very venue more than two years ago and, although so much has changed in the world since then, the live band set up feels much the same with a very Later with Jools Holland vibe about proceedings.
The casual viewer may be surprised just how accomplished and far from the Rewind-type greatest hits shows this is from what they might have been expecting.
We’ve had a long day and for us this starts a little later than we would have liked at 10pm and while we’ve set up the show to play on our laptop on a countdown it starts on mute and, without sound, we miss the first couple of songs.
George remarks that: ‘There’s 1 song that if you don’t play it people get very upset’ as he explains why a new version of Chameleon had opened the show but a more familiar one would close it.
As the credits roll we can hear him in the background talking about wanting to play another sing and, indicative of what can be the chaotic nature of a live show, Rainbow In The Dark feels a little rushed at just over an hour.
There are 3 new songs and at least 2, Rainbow and We Are Gathered Here Today, appear to have relevance in lockdown. George has always had a way with a strong title but we’re less convinced by the tunes but look forward to hearing them more often perhaps at the heart of a new album.
It’s a great idea then to put on this worldwide livestream although it has not been without its difficulties and the rest of the show contains the staple of the band’s live set, predominantly the hits from their 80s heyday. We especially enjoy the frenetic Motown of Poison Mind and laidback reggae of Do You Really? tonight.
We’ve always loved how George pays tribute to his heroes which emphasises how much love of music there is brimming within the band and they give us a rousing version of T-Rex’s Get It On topped with a generous description of inspirational Marc Bolan’s talent.
George’s voice sounds richer and deeper than we remember and, although it’s been a struggle getting here, we do hope more bands follow Culture Club’s lead and put on great shows like this for as long as live gigs as we used to know them aren’t quite as possible.