Review: Culture Club, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Saturday, 14, 2021

Words and photos by Dave Lawrence

IT is almost with a sense of embarrassment that I have to admit to having never seen Culture Club perform before. Despite the classic songs and the fact that they were huge “back in the day”, the opportunity just never happened.

I was therefore keen to drive across to Scarborough last night to see them perform at the Open Air Theatre. 

Culture Club exploded on to the music scene in 1982 with a unique fusion of music, fashion and art. They were fronted by Boy George, a charismatic presence who was always reliable for a media-friendly quote which often rubbed fellow pop-stars up the wrong way. 

Gazette & Herald: Boy George and Culture Club on form last nightBoy George and Culture Club on form last night

Currently undertaking a short series of outdoor gigs, the band comprised of George - still an eye-catching presence with his striking makeup, clothes and headwear - and original members guitarist/keyboardist Roy Hay and bassist Mikey Craig. Backing these three up were an eleven-piece band that included four backing singers. 

It was quickly apparent that George’s voice has lost none of its range or power. Indeed, it may be better than ever with a deep lower range ideally suited to soulful numbers like Hold Back the Feeling, Time and Victims. 

The rain poncho-clad audience responded enthusiastically to hits such as Church Of The Poisoned Mind, I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, It’s a Miracle and Do You Really Want To Hurt Me and George easily persuaded the crowd to sing along to a cover of Bread’s Everything I Own.

Songs such as Drop the Needle, Lift Your Head Up and especially Swoon were evidence that the newer material sounded promising.

Gazette & Herald: Enjoying the moment - Boy George on stage in ScarboroughEnjoying the moment - Boy George on stage in Scarborough

With a smile on his face throughout the show, George chatted amiably to the audience as if they were old friends. Much of his life has been a real-life soap opera but the George on stage in Scarborough was relaxed, full of fun and at ease with the world. He was chatty, engaging and displayed a fine sense of humour.

A terrific encore included a cover of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World, the monster hit Karma Chameleon and an extended cover of T Rex’s Get It On. 

The next gig at Scarborough is Nile Rodgers and Chic on Friday August, who incidentally will be also headlining the following evening at Hardwick Live in Sedgefield. Safe to say, good times are guaranteed at both.