Earlier this year, popular 80s band Culture Club featuring their flamboyant cross-dressing lead vocalist Boy George audaciously announced a two-night concert in Manila at the Araneta Coliseum on June 17 and 18, 2016. However, by the first week of June, it was announced that the first day had been scrapped and that there will only be one concert on June 18. I had to swap my 06/17 tickets for 06/18 tickets.
When we entered the Coliseum at around 8 pm, there were still very many empty seats all over in all sections. This was a Saturday night, so this situation was very unusual. The Gen Ad section had been closed and the lucky GA ticket holders were upgraded to Upper Box, which nevertheless still never filled up despite this. It would never be a full house even as the concert started by about 9 pm.
Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards), Mikey Craig (bass guitar) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion) entered the stage first, before star vocalist Boy George made his grand entrance. The concert started very strongly, with four consecutive big hits: "Church of the Poison Mind" (#2 UK, #10 US, 1983) (VIDEO), "It's a Miracle" (#4 UK, #13 US, 1984), "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" (#9 US, 1982) and "Move Away" (#7 UK, #12 US, 1986) (VIDEO). It was promising to be a great concert of 80s nostalgia, as the music videos of each hit were being shown on the big screen as Boy George was singing the songs.
Then suddenly, the images on the big screen vanished. The technicians announced that there had been a power outage on the stage! While the microphones and overhead lights seemed to be working, all the amplifiers of the instruments are dead. Upon this announcement, Boy George at first joked if he was going to do a stand-up comedy routine. However, probably realizing that the power problem was serious, he left the stage for a "costume change."
The drummers tried to engage the audience with a couple of drum numbers, however they also could not sustain the long wait. The audience grew restless and, in true Filipino fashion, spent the time singing or joking around. This wait would last for an interminable 30-40 minutes before the power was finally restored and the concert could resume. Boy George apologized profusely and thanked everyone for waiting patiently.
The first number sung after the outage was Boy George's solo hit "Everything I Own" (#1 UK, 1987), a reggae-flavored cover of an old ballad hit by Bread. Then Boy George paired up with one of his diva-esque back-up singers to perform the soulful "Black Money", followed by another soulful solo song entitled "Victims" (#3 UK, 1983). These two songs prove that Boy George's pipes light-as-air vocals can also be powerful and dramatic.
The next four songs was another hit blitz. For "Time (Clock of the Heart)" (#3 UK, #2 US, 1982), Boy George enjoined lovers put their arms around each other. This was followed by the upbeat crowd favorite "Miss Me Blind" (#5 US, 1984) with its Japanese-themed video playing behind him. The next song Boy George introduced as the song that started it all for them: "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" (#1 UK, #2 US, 1982) (VIDEO). Immediately following was their first and only Number 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (also #1 in UK) -- "Karma Chameleon" (VIDEO). This song finally got the whole crowd up on their feet.
After that hitting that high though, Boy George elected to play it serious again, with a cover of his personal inspiration David Bowie, an impressive version of "Starman." This was followed by a song that Boy George said he was being pressured to sing. He revealed that they have practically never sung this next song in a concert, only maybe three times in the past 30 years. This was the big hit "The War Song" (#2 UK, #17 US, 1984) sung in a new deconstructed version, which also delighted the audience.
The next song they performed was another cover, "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" by T. Rex, and also by the Power Station. Boy George suddenly announced his goodbyes towards the final notes of this song and left the stage. The rest of Culture Club and the band wound up their music and bade their goodbyes as well. The audience seemed unsatisfied still, and no one left their seats right away, yelling for more. However, an encore did not come anymore.
The concert covered ALL the biggest hits of Culture Club, so the show should be OK. Maybe it was the order in which the songs were performed that made it seem that the show did not reach a higher climax. I was personally disappointed that Boy George did not get to sing his version of "The Crying Game", which was a favorite of mine. The 30-minute power outage really sapped the momentum of the show considerably. I think Boy George was disappointed with the show overall. He did not dance too much. He only had one costume change. I think maybe it was because of the unexpectedly sparse audience turnout. I really cannot fathom why this concert did not sell as well as it could have.