Sunday, 17 November 2013

Boy George at Koko 2013

Last Sunday I saw Boy George play at Koko in Camden, one of my least favourite venues. But it was great to see and hear a slimmed down and re-invigorated Boy George in great voice sing his classics and songs from his new album, 'This Is What I Do'. And it is what he does.

We had about two hours from the Boy ranging over the last 30 years but focusing on 2013. Backed by a 7-piece band he sounded excellent and we had songs from Culture Club, his solo music, songs from his latest record and a couple of classic covers. As ever, he was backed by John Themis and Kevan Frost, his writing partners as well as leaders of his band. The addition of a horn section added a whole new texture to enjoy. Bringing on some guest musicians that played on the album made fora crowded stage but enhanced the sound. Which was great.

George opened with a reggae section of 5 or 6 songs from the new album and also gave us reggae-ish versions of 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me' and 'Karma Chameleon' - he must be so bored of playing those songs endlessly but they're what made him a global star. We also had great versions of 'Church of the Poisoned Mind' and 'Victims' from the Culture Club days.

I liked hearing the new songs which, strangely, sound even better live than on the record. I particularly liked the countrified 'Any Road', the rock of Yoko Ono's 'Death of Samantha' and the great 'Bigger Than War' in which I had to join in the chorus of 'Bigger than the Beatles, the Rolling Stones; Bigger than Elvis... but not Yoko!'. O no, not Yoko.

The two covers were T.Rex's 'Get It On' which he really should record, with chugging guitar forcing it along and great sax, and a less polished but heartfelt 'Starman' by Bowie. George is, indeed, a child of his times, like the rest of us!

I also loved his rock star version of 'Satan's Butterfly Ball' from 'Cheapness & Beauty' and the great 'Bow Down Mister'. I'd tweeted George earlier that day saying I hoped he'd play this so I could chant along for Poly Styrene. He didn't play it at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of Yoko's Meltdown festival but he did at Koko, a great big rousing version in which I sang along to 'Hare Krishna, Hare Rama' for Poly. Word perfect, obv.

It was great fun to see George on top form, giving us all what we wanted and enjoying it, laughing and joking with the crowd. Well done, George, let's have more!

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