Culture Club At The Greek

I know you’ll miss me
I know you’ll miss me
I know you’ll miss me blind

Actually, no. We wouldn’t have even gone to the Greek if it hadn’t been Rena’s birthday. And when the band appeared on the big screen in her office I thought it was a commercial, because who goes on tour with FOURTEEN PEOPLE?

Culture Club. Two great albums, a flurry of hits, and then nothing. We thought Boy George would go on to further success, but he flamed out and the band are now has-beens, out for a money grab.

And the way you do this is by having a lot of the show on hard drive. But Culture Club was LIVE!

I’m trying to figure out the modern paradigm. Everyone believes it’s gonna look just like the past, with recordings being the driver. But I’m not sure. Maybe it’s all about experiences, maybe it’s all about the show. And Culture Club’s was so good, so entertaining, made me smile so much that I told myself…I WANT TO SEE THIS AGAIN!

And I never feel that way. That’s why I stay home. I’ve seen everybody I want to see too many times, in their heyday and now on the rerun. It’s creepy to go again, I don’t get it. As for the young ‘uns…they tend to be gone before they get traction, or they never get traction, or it’s about hearing a couple of hits and then…

And I’m not telling you I have an aversion to hits, but the highlight of Thursday night’s show was a reggaefied version of Bread’s “Everything I Own.”


That’s what you can do when you have a well-rehearsed band, surprise us.

And I was surprised that they were doing my favorite song first, “Church Of The Poison Mind.” I heard it coming up the steps. And it wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t expect it to be.

But Boy George… He was wearing this concoction on his head I just could not stop staring at. As if someone at the Scotch Tape store took black ribbon and twirled it up into a double crown. Who would wear such a thing, WHO COULD COME UP WITH SUCH A THING!

And when the initial number was done and we were in our seats, Mr. O’Dowd started to talk to the audience. I haven’t seen this kind of banter since Adele played the venue, the best show of the twenty first century. She was so relaxed, at ease with herself, with nothing to prove. She talked about the audience’s outfits, engaged in conversation as opposed to ignoring the hecklers. And Boy George did this too. Maybe it’s an English thing.

And the truth is Boy George has done so many shows that he’s relaxed and skillful, it’s Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours in action. Never forget that Gladwell uses the Beatles as an example in his book, how they played more gigs in Hamburg than most bands now play in a lifetime.

First and foremost it was the original band. That never happens. Someone’s dead or there’s too much infighting, usually about money, and someone is squeezed out or refuses to participate.

And I would be lying if I said they all didn’t show the years. But they were game, and so were we.

But it was a show band, with a master at its center. They could play anything and you’d enjoy it. Because that’s the power of music, what it is first and foremost, a sound, that envelops you and carries you away, makes you feel good. Music is just not a vehicle to become rich and famous. But today that’s what it is. It’s all about the money. Whereas the English were doing it on a lark. The British Invasion guys were just trying to avoid a life of drudgery in the factory. Boy George was a gay guy who didn’t fit in, so he created his own fabulous life, and we could just peak in.

But times were different. Never underestimate the power of MTV. Freddy and Demi couldn’t stop talking about Culture Club. They had MTV when it wasn’t in every neighborhood, and if you had it you were addicted and when your friends came over they couldn’t stop watching it. And sure, Duran Duran created the paradigm of throwing a ton of money at the screen in order to become successful, but Culture Club was one of the initial breakthroughs also. Although their videos were done on a lark and were often nonsensical, I know, because they showed them all on the backdrop Thursday night. But, Boy George evidenced charisma, which he still possesses, and they were all having so much FUN! You remember fun! Instead of dancing choreographed steps to perfection, you just go with the feeling.

So, you’ve got a horn section, a trio of players who don’t sound like Chicago, but something closer to what came before, the big band era, when you needed a full complement of players to get the sound across.

And a trio of backup singers… One was not enough? Two? You’ve got to pay these people. And they didn’t have perfect bodies and didn’t look like they belonged in the centerfold but when you heard them sing, you were bonded closer than you ever were to Bo Derek and the rest of the “Sharknado” has-beens. Because physical beauty is two-dimensional, whereas soul comes straight from the heart.

And two percussionists. Unnecessary, but adding flavor.

And there was one more guitarist, he looked like the band leader, but the original player, Roy Hay, did the solos.

And Jack Black came out at the end to duet on David Bowie’s “Starman” and if you grew up with “Ziggy Stardust” it was transcendent but the truth is Boy George knows his place in time. He can pay fealty to what came before, his influences, because he knows something else is coming after.

So I’m not telling you to go to this show for nostalgia, to put a notch in your belt.

And I’m not telling you to go to this show if you don’t care, after all, the band is what it is.

But if you like to go out, if you like to feel good, if you like to be transported by music, if you’re in search of authenticity in a land inundated by fake.

This is your gig.

Comments are closed