“In the church of the poison miiiiind’……. And just like that, my musical version of a Narnia portal opened and I was transported back to another world; a childhood world where my bedroom ruled with Culture Club posters adorning my wall. Having missed out in the past, I finally got to see those posters brought to life and the Hordern Pavilion concert, on a very chilly Saturday night in Sydney, was a very fitting reunion for us all. There was the obvious maturing of behaviours within the band and of Boy George’s voice which is standard as time passes for most of us, let alone for musicians and singers, but what doesn’t change are those fabulous songs that branded our lives and brought, and still bring us, so much joy.
Being crammed in ‘like sardines’ as noted by Boy George (yes Mr O'Dowd, and crammed with pleasure…) the Hordern was sold out; we all bopped, sang and relished and smiled with the band, still amazingly made up of original members - guitarist and keyboardist Roy Hay, bassist Mikey Craig, drummer Jon Moss and of course the gorgeous and charismatic singer, Boy George, while they ripped through their set like they had never been in hiatus. We had Boy George entertaining with his colourful outfits and poised quick wit between songs, drawing us into a little glimpse of his world while his stunning eyes sparkled under the stage lights. Jealous, much? Aha. Most of us there would have been. And complementing the band was a powerful trio of back up gospel singers and brass section that just added depth to songs that actually sound more complex now that I’m older.
Am I biased? Yes, but apart from my own bias, I call it as I see it and this was one fun night out. If I can back pedal, we first started with some classic Aussie 80’s music courtesy of Kids in the Kitchen (and, yes, the ‘Shine’ album is in my collection too, along with ‘Colour by Numbers’ so I may be biased again..) and they were great, again, great songs still performed well. I had no complaints and neither did most of the crowd around me in the chock-a-block VIP section.
Then it was time for our favourite Abba tribute band, Bjorn Again. I must admit, I wasn't sure if they would gel with this line up, but they were fun. Again, great singers and yes, more cabaret style but they were fun, fun, fun. Nothing wrong with bringing your ‘inner dag’ out and what else should you take from a gig except talent and fun and all ‘round smiles? Though I think the back-up singing from ‘Benny’ on ‘Su-per-pah, Trou-per-pah' may cling to my brain cells for the next few months…..
Now back to my Narnia moments, hearing classics like Church of the Poison Mind, It’s a Miracle, I’ll Tumble for Ya, Miss Me Blind and of course the haunting and dramatic ‘Victims’, it was like we were all reminiscing with friends over a comforting cup of English Breakfast tea.
Our evening was filled with the majority of the well-known songs but also some new tracks from the still unreleased Tribes album, ‘Like I Used To’ and ‘Different Man’ were sprinkled in. This is apart from the legendary ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’ and ‘’Karma Chameleon’.
The night ended interestingly with covers of Bowie’s ‘Starman’ and T-Rex’s ‘Get It On’ but what I could see and feel the most was the genuine happiness around me from not just the worshipping and teary-eyed fans but from all band members. I try to watch as much as listen and seeing how chuffed and humble the band were throughout and upon completion, while lapping up the claps, whistles and adoration, was really quite moving. I just hoped during these moments that they realised how important they are to us as we are to them, and that some of us still have their pictures glued in scrapbooks that we used to rip out of Smash Hits and Number One magazines… (confession)
Being a 9 year old hetero female, I wouldn’t have understood the social significance of Culture Club and Boy George in the 80’s as my only concerns at the time were the music and enjoying the glamour, clothes and make up as I loved the ‘different’ anyway, but I began to really understand how important they were to all the previously confused and maligned members of our community when I looked around at the many diverse and wonderful fans inside the Hordern Pavillion. I could see the depth of importance. It was almost like visualising invisible wounds that were being healed with some magic cream and I tried to imagine what our fellow LGBT people all went through back ‘in the day’ (and unfortunately too many now) and how comforting Culture Club and Boy George would have been to them with their message of ‘it’s ok to be different’. Yet, I couldn’t really imagine as I didn’t have to experience those difficulties in my life but still, we all shared a common bond for those few hours and that was just plain love, love of Culture Club and Boy George, the music, the flamboyance and the pure joy. Please come back to us one day. We all need some more of your rainbow glitter in our lives.
by MARINA KNEZEVIC
You can still catch Culture Club in Brisbane on 14 June 2016
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