As with my 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Year in Review features, this article looks back on a year of music with a summary of the highlights. This year, I attended about 35 shows, with hundreds of different sets of incredible talent and music to make sense of, not to mention trying to keep up with all of the studio releases from artists, new and old. This is my attempt to (subjectively) share my favorites of the year, from live shows to new songs and albums. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2016 in that separate article.
“So, basically Culture Club makes happy sad music. If you’re a Gemini, you don’t need that explained. If you’re a Libra, I can’t help you. Hands up for the Geminis! You’ve got to use two hands if you’re a Gemini, because there’s always two of you. What’s that saying? ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I.’ That’s the Gemini mantra. So we do these happy sad songs. Dancy rhythms, melancholy sounds, mixed together…” Boy George explaining Culture Club in a way that only he could… an interesting insight into the band and the man who proudly stood out in front of it (as well standing for many other things) throughout the first half of the 1980s. All in preface to the song, “Move Away”, which was the lead single to their fourth album, From Luxury To Heartache, an album title which nicely dovetails into what he was explaining, as well as illustrative of that early trajectory of the band in it’s first life… It all ended far too early when they broke up in 1986 following the release of that album and that lead single, which would be their final entry into the U.S. Top 40 charts. The light that burns twice as bright last half the time and all that… But life is a funny thing. Fast forward thirty years (!), and there on that stage at Thunder Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater in front of thousands of jubilant fans on Friday night was Boy George and the original members of Culture Club – Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss – and I can’t imagine them being any more happy or in sync with one another musically and with their live performance. And, it would seem, the impossible journey each took to get them there made it all the more sublime. Joyfully playing those now classic songs of happy sad music. A potent chemical reaction of letting soul and reggae out to play with all manner of other music genres, bending and twisting and dancing with new wave, country, pop, funk, rock, R&B, and even church music, to create something altogether unique but unified in that wicked sort of Gemini manner… The genius of Boy George, and his bravery in always being uniquely himself and forging new paths for others to follow. Definitely one of the best tours of 2016, one of the most important New Wave bands (who helped push those loose boundaries within that broad musical movement), and a band fronted by one of the most interesting figures in pop culture in modern times. [Read more…]
80s music and Grammy Award-winning New Wave icons Culture Club released a brand new single, “More Than Silence”, today; with news of an all-new sixth studio album, Tribes, due out early next year. The much anticipated 2014 North American tour kicks off on November 15th in Rancho Mirage, California. The band will be touring with all of the original members: Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion). [Read more…]
“It’s all about the attitude, right? Intention and context are everything. What’s next? Oh, sometimes I surprise myself!” 80s pop culture icon Boy George, before launching into “Church of the Poison Mind” with his amazing band, one of a handful of songs performed to the sold out crowd at The Fillmore in San Francisco last night. He had a lot to say to those who turned out for his show, and it marked his first visit to the city since 1999*. He was beaming with joy throughout their lengthy set, that ran about two hours and fifteen minutes, with interesting anecdotes, and witty and self-deprecating humor (at one point describing himself as an emerging UK artist). Culture Club’s albums were some of the first I bought as a kid, but in their prime years of ’83-’84, I was around 10-11 years old, so had no chance to see them live. This was one of the tours I’ve most anticipated this year, and with uncertain expectations, in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined it would be, or even could be as stellar as it was. It was truly magnificent on every level, and I’m an even bigger fan than ever after experiencing the show last night. Definitely one of the best shows of the year.
Boy George, best known for fronting 80s New Wave pioneer Culture Club, will be playing 18 cities in North America this month following the release of his new single, “King of Everything”, from last year’s studio album, This Is What I Do. The tour will include a 9-piece band with brass section, promising to tap into his brand of fusing together many different genres, including gospel, reggae, pop, rock, and soul. [Read more…]