Months ahead of their Manila stop, Boy George – a singer, DJ, author and is now regularly seen as a coach in “The Voice UK,” said the band is excited to finally perform before their Filipino fans. Last Saturday it came into fruition. Boy George, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss, collectively known as The Culture Club showed Manila fans that time has been very kind to them. Fans flocked to the Araneta Coliseum and got surprised that “The Club” pretty much hasn’t changed. Quite interestingly, I was expecting them to be a bit rusty given that the band went on hiatus for almost 30 years but the band has certainly kept their skills up and almost literally took us to church with The Church of the Poison Mind as their first song. They sound almost exactly as they were on their first album. Everyone went wild and crazy as they’re all waving their hands in the air as if possessed by the zeitgeist of the 80’s.
From the moment the tip of his hat appeared on stage, Boy George had the crowd’s attention. Fans started screaming and cheering and were certainly entranced by his mere presence. We all know that Boy George, with all his fancy, flouncy, flamboyant outfits is a sheer diva. Unlike many divas though, he knows how to interact with the crowd. His gorgeous gaze and his charming smile will surely give you butterflies. The moment you see him in person, you’ll feel instantaneously that he has a wonderful, drawing personality – there’s a certain familiarity to him, like he’s your next-door gay best friend, only he has sold millions of albums worldwide. Everybody stood up for the first four songs, which include it’s a Miracle, I’ll Tumble 4 Ya and Move Away. The fans really did have a good time. Everything was perfect. The music, the sound, the arrangement, it’s like the 80’s but definitely better.
Boy George is still the crowd pleaser that he used to. He would talk to audience from time to time. He is such a darling, acknowledging a fan with an outrageous outfit, pointing at audiences here and there. He is humorous and humble, blaming Roy for the power interruption that occurred for twenty minutes after the first four songs and actually suggesting that fans could just clap for him and be his instrumental for the next ones. He purposely used the downtime for a costume change. Jon Moss also pleased the audience when he showcased his drumming prowess to keep them entertained while the technical problems were being dealt with.
When the technical problems were ironed out, people got on their feet to dance to the catchy upbeat tunes of Time, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, and Karma Chameleon. All in all, this was a good concert. They gave a clean sound, they performed all their hits, they sang David Bowie’s Starman as tribute, the crowd was electrified and there was also a bonus sentimentally sweet reggae rendition of David Gates’ Everything I Own. Even the two female backup singers were phenomenal. He did a duet with his back-up singer Clarissa, in Black Money and from the downbeat songs that followed, I can tell that his voice has evolved. It is definitely warmer, richer, more velvety and raspy than before. His sustained notes were clean and he didn’t strain his voice at all. He was pitch perfect and the band was also tight. It was also a rare treasure to hear them sing a deconstructed, mellow version of The War Song, which Boy George stated that they don’t usually perform and have sung the song only three times in the past 30 years. His confession was followed by a brief moment of silence as he said that the song is very appropriate in light of what’s happening in the world today, a subtle reference to the Orlando tragedy days ago.
When Culture Club won the best new artist Grammy in 1984, he said in his acceptance speech: “Thank you, America. You’ve got taste, style and you know a good drag queen when you see one.” Well that’s a speech he could definitely say for his Filipino fans.
The Manila leg is part of the band’s 40-city tour, which includes cities in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Japan.
Here’s the set list of the show:
- Church of the Poison Mind
- It’s A Miracle
- I’ll Tumble 4 Ya
- Move Away
- Everything I Own
- Black Money
- Miss Me Blind
- Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
- Karma Chameleon
- The War Song
- Get It On (Bang a Gong)
Images by: Manila Concert Junkies