Culture Club’s performance on Friday night, Nov. 11, at Fantasy Springs made good on a promise.
The well-known ’80s new-wave band, fronted by Boy George, was slated to kick off its current reunion here in the Coachella Valley back in November 2014, but after the show was announced Boy George learned he had a serious throat condition that required surgery. The show was cancelled, and the reunion tour was delayed.
On Friday night, the band gave fans a two-hour performance that was more than worth the wait.
Culture Club started the show with “Church of the Poison Mind,” and Boy George was the last member to walk onstage—dressed in an outfit covered with Xs and Os, which together stand for love. He addressed the audience after the song with his trademark wit and snarky humor, saying that people were probably not sure what they were going to get—and that the band members didn’t know what they were going to give—but he promised the crowd, “Slowly and surely, we will seduce you.” The band then performed “It’s a Miracle.”
“We’re a one-stop shop for those who are different,” Boy George said in between songs. “We have three requirements: Dance like no one is watching you, because if they are, we’re not doing our jobs. Love like no one ever broke your heart, because eventually, they will. And the last one: Dress like every day is Halloween.”
At another moment, Boy George observed a few people in the section where I was sitting using their cellphones to film him. He pointed them out, saying they were too busy on their cellphones, before waving and saying, “Hello! I’m actually here. This isn’t a third-party experience!” The band then launched into a cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own.”
Boy George took a moment to address the passing of Leonard Cohen, explaining how much of an influence Cohen was on him, and sharing some of the lyrics of Cohen’s “Anthem”: “There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”
After “The Crying Game,” Boy George explained that “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” was the song that gave the band their big break in America. He said the only thing knew about America at that time was Kojack, The Partridge Family and The Jackson 5.
The three-song encore started with “Karma Chameleon,” and was followed by one of the best Prince tributes I’ve heard or seen all year: a full-blown cover of “Purple Rain.” T. Rex’s “Get It On” closed out the show.
Culture Club is band that was far more innovative than many 1980s contemporaries: The new-wave band took the sound of the ’80s and combined it with reggae, Latin, gospel and even easy listening and touches of Dusty Springfield’s style. Today, the band still sounds fantastic, and Boy George is the same sly, sassy and funny showman he’s always been.
Church of the Poison Mind
It’s a Miracle
Everything I Own
Time (Clock of the Heart)
Like I Used To
Miss Me Blind
The Crying Game
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
The War Song
Get It On