Review: Culture Club at The Music Center at Strathmore

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Culture Club channels the 80s at Strathmore

The UK pop-soul music group Culture Club has been grooving for over 30 years with hits like “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”, “Time,” “Karma Chameleon,” “’It’s a Miracle” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya’.” Consisting of Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards), and Jon Moss (drums and percussion), the group has sold over 150 million records since its formation in 1981. Culture Club brought their unique blend of musical delight to The Music Center at Strathmore, for one unforgettable night, the last night in a four-month American tour, on September 11, 2016.

Culture Club.Photo courtesy of The Music Center at Strathmore.
Culture Club. Photo courtesy of The Music Center at Strathmore.

Amid sparkling drums, a keyboard and acoustic equipment, Boy George still full of charm and joie de vivre after so many years, got things on with the bubble-gum pop\rock “Church of the Poison Mind,” which like virtually every song he sang this night, had the audience on their feet, swaying, clapping and cheering.

George, decked out in a black-and-white tic-tac-toe-patterned suit and signature over-sized fedora, was quite the comedic sage between sets, quipping that his home country Great Britain had gone through the infamous Brexit during the tour, which covered 55,000 miles. “We may go back to a country we don’t recognize; but we’ll just have a cup of tea and everything will be fine—that’s the British way!”

Culture Club then delighted the audience with two of their signature hits, the upbeat “It’s a Miracle”  and the Caribbean flavored  “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” and then the lesser known “Move Away.” Moss killed with his expert percussion in “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” as he did throughout.

“We do happy, sad,” said George of Culture Club’s music. “That kind of sums up the human condition.” The group, with support of its three-piece horn-section, then jumped into the reggae-infused “Everything I Own.” It was fun to see George’s exuberance, which included much skipping, dancing and even twerking.

The group pulled from one of their best known albums Color By Numbers with the ballad “Black Money,” supported by the vocals of back-up singer Theresa Bailey (Bailey was joined throughout by fellow back-ups DeeDee Foster and Traci Black).

“No one comes to a show to have a bad time, except maybe a critic,” George quipped, at this point in a black and red suit, before launching into “Human Zoo.”

The apex of the show was Culture Club’s performance of perhaps their best song, “Time (Clock of the Heart),” from the 1982 album Kissing to Be Clever, an album squarely from the golden age of British pop.

After the funky, chicka-wa, flavored “Like I Used To,” George explained that funky 60s singer “Sly Stone is my all-time favorite. He wrote songs with no chorus, just a base line.” The group stayed within that funky stew with “A Different Man.” Both songs reached the pinnacle of funkiness with the support of Craig’s bass and Hay’s guitar.

“Nothing about me is an act—it’s all real!” George exclaimed before Culture Club launched into the lighthearted, pop-gem “Miss Me Blind” from the Color By Numbers album. The group then set aside a moment to sing “Happy Birthday” to drummer Moss, who turned 59.

George, then took a moment to reflect on the 15th Anniversary of the September 11th tragedy, saying “We must keep living defiantly.”

The spectacular evening ended with Culture Club’s first notable hit “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” and the explosive, percussion-driven “War is Stupid.”

Culture Club proved why it is one of the best bands of the 1980s. Be sure to catch them the next time they return to the States!

Running Time: Two hours, with no intermission.

Culture Club performed on September 11, 2016 fot one-night-only at The Music Center at Strathmore – 10701 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD. or future events at The Mansion and The Music Center at Strathmore go to their calendar of events.  

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