We Love Music: Boy George @ 9:30 Club — 4/21/14

As Boy George covered a song by Yoko Ono, “Death of Samantha,” in the first song of his encore Monday night at the 9:30 Club, two gents broke out in dramatic dance in front of the coffee bar upstairs. They, like much of the audience at the sold-out show, had giddily enjoyed the entertainment and could no longer hide it. So they seized what opportunity they could to throw themselves into it.

Similar sentiments broke out around the club as Boy George received a hero’s welcome from a diverse crowd of young and old, gay and straight, black and white. Concert-goers expressed their enthusiasm in generally raucous cheer, happy to receive the maverick performer who clearly had been missing from the United States for far too long.

George, for his part, was a professional and gracious performer. At a point about two-thirds through the main set, he attempted to engage audience enthusiasm for an acoustic cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe” by Bob Dylan. After realizing that the dance-hungry crowd wasn’t going to focus enough for the quiet hush of the song, George merely used it as an interlude to segue into other songs from his new album, This Is What I Do, and the new material was very well received by those looking for more of what they expected from the former Culture Club frontman.

That’s not to say Boy George has become a one-trick pony at this point in his career. He wasn’t afraid to go glam or even country from song to song. His voice these days has a husky sweetness that suits the older George, a little weathered, a little wiser. And he used it well in the reggae-flavored dance tunes that dominated most of his set.

Opening with the ballad “King of Everything” from the new album, Boy George seemed at his most powerful when he was singing songs that seemed a least a bit confessional or autobiographical. He was able to take the audience right along with him very quickly, leading a large sing-along to “Everything I Own,” a cover by folk rockers Bread that suited George and his band remarkably well. And before long, he has shifted into “It’s Easy,” a lovelorn country song from the new album.

Although the new album dominated the set, Boy George wasn’t afraid to acknowledge his past. The Culture Club songs of the concert ranked among the audience favorites, as you would expect. The first played was “Church of the Poison Mind,” which really allows his backing singer Zee Asha to shine as her voice complements his very well. Soon after, Boy George plays perennial favorite “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”, smartly introduced as a blues song. And my personal favorite moment of the show came with the performance of “Karma Chameleon,” which began in a very stripped down fashion with just George’s vocal and an intro by trumpeter Reuben Fowler before it went big with the full seven-piece band.

From there, Boy George launched into a cover of “Get It On” By T. Rex, which worked perfectly.

Tonight, George hits Irving Plaza in New York City for another sold-out show, so no one there has to be assured that they are in for more than 90 minutes of a reggae soul dance-a-thon. Later this month, he has some dates in Chicago and beyond to the west coast in California.

Bottom line: George is in good form, and his show is definitely not to be missed. His banter to the audience was generally light, but the audience ate up every word, including his occasionally cheeky, occasionally self-effacing humor. I think a lot of people would have paid just to hear him chat with them! As he said at the end of the show, “Thank you, Washington! You’re a complicated lot… but so am I!”

Mickey reviews music shows. For recent reviews, visit Parklife DC.

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51 thoughts on “We Love Music: Boy George @ 9:30 Club — 4/21/14

  1. Were we at the same concert? I thought he was horrible. Everyone was bored and talking. He was very rude to the audience. All the reggae songs sounded the same. Worst concert I’ve ever been to. A lot of people in the audience did not find him funny, but felt insulted. He did not do enough of the older CC material. People were walking out and leaving early.

  2. Not sure what concert Caryn went to, because the crowd was thick until the encore, which was rather mellow after rocking the house for 90 minutes. Every performer that still produces new music promotes that music in their concert. That is what I expected, and got, at last night’s show. He did the biggest CC hits, but he has moved on as a performer and he concentrated on that. It was the crowd that was rude by talking non-stop, which bugged me and obviously BG too. I enjoyed the show.

  3. I agree, Caryn. It was a pathetic show. He’s been on a personal trainwreck for much of the last three decades. I was hoping he would pull through.

  4. Its a great show you need to be a Fan of his music to like the show Boy George is a Great preformer

  5. Now, I understand that all performers so some new music which is fine, but they also do a lot of their older stuff as well. He only did 3 of the his 80′s songs and three of his 90′s songs. I am a fan of his older music. I just don’t care for his new music. If it was so great, why were people talking during it the whole time? Obviously it was because they were bored and didn’t know the new stuff. The new stuff was all reggae and sounded exactly the same.

  6. I agree the showed sucked!!!!! everybody wanted to hear CC songs, sorry to say but the new stuff sucks plain and simple he was rude to the crowd! what a waste! drove all the way up from Chesapeake VA should have went site seeing instead.

  7. the show was garbage! he should have been kissing the crowds A$$! big joke no body want to hear your new trash boy sorry.

  8. we paid good money for those tickets to see that sorry concert! and this is what you do lol!you mean don’t do.see ya and wound not want to be ya! that show sucked.

  9. I guess im a true CC fan then cause it should have ben in bold letters on the website that it was going to mostly new songs and just a couple of the old ones,that would have saved me a long trip for nothing the show was a waste.sorry

  10. It’s funny how one person can have so many different personas to post her negativity on here!!! lol It’s a Boy George concert, not a Culture Club concert. He is in great form with a great Band. If you wanna see Culture Club, buy the VHS….

    Reviews for all the shows he did so far have been amazing, and of course he is promoting his new record which is having great reviews and sounds brilliant. Get over it, it’s 2014 not 1983… You won’t get your childhood back….

  11. btw, dearest Tete, the tour is called the “This is what I do tour” , so seriously what did you expect? the “Colour by Numbers Tour” was 30 years ago….

  12. CC? Really? It’s been 30 years and you still expect CC songs? Move on, people! Zzzzzzz

  13. Also he did all his new songs in a row like 5 or 6 or more and it was so boring. Other older artists that I’ve been to like Duran Duran or Madonna will do lots of new stuff but they will do a new song and then alternate with an old song and so on. So if you don’t like their new stuff you don’t get too bored because there’s an old song coming up. Not only did he not do much CC, he also did not do his 90′s music like the Crying Game or Generations of Love which I like. He said in an interview he would do the Crying Game but he didn’t.

  14. The show started off really well. For the first four or so songs he was doing what Caryn suggested alternating the old and the new with some rock and R&B songs. So I was like this is going to be good. But then he started doing all the new stuff in a row and using the weird bad Jamician accent with all the reggae, and being rude to the audience. So it started well, but ended badly.

  15. that dumb reggae saying rico! and talking about the crowd and the booze talking just shut up and play CC songs that’s what got you here!the show sucked RICO lol.

  16. The tour is called, “This what I do.” This is BG own thing. PEOPLE!! THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!! I REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!! It is a damn shame, that many people come to the concert having old CC albums for him to sign, and not promoting him by downloading or buy his current album. I find it very funny if the original CC members were to perform at the same club the next night, then everyone will say that he was, “great” or he was “phenomenal” but the night before, he was s**t. I can understand why that BG found it disappointing when he see people in the audience holding up old CC albums, when he is singing songs from is new album. This is not 1982. The 80′s was a great decade for CC. TIME TO MOVE ON FOLKS!!

  17. Why can’t he do some old CC and some new music like most other artists? Balance the two. If you give people some older songs they like, they will be much more open to hearing your new stuff instead of being pissed off. Also why can’t he do some more of his older solo music from the 90′s. If he continues like this, fans will move on…. to other artists that know how to structure a set list properly.

  18. The tour is called, “This is what I do.” This is BG own thing. PEOPLE!! THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!! I REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!! It is a damn shame, that many people come to the concert having old CC albums for him to sign, and not promoting him by downloading or buy his current album. I find it very funny if the original CC members were to perform at the same club the next night, then everyone will say that he was, “great” or he was “phenomenal” but the night before, he was s**t, boring. I can understand why that BG found it disappointing when he see people in the audience holding up old CC albums, when he is singing songs from is new album. This is not 1982. The 80′s was a great decade for CC. MOVE ON FOLKS!!

  19. When I hear the words “This is What I Do” I would assume it means the artist would be singing songs from the whole of their career. Isn’t CC part of his career? Wasn’t the 90′s songs part of his career? The title wasn’t This is what I sing on my new album!

  20. The tour is called, “This is What I Do” This is BG own tour with his band. PEOPLE!! THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!!. It is a damn shame, that many people come to the club having old CC albums for him to sign, and (but not all) not promoting him by downloading or buying his current album. I find it very funny if the original CC members were to perform at the same club the next night, then everyone will say that he was, “great” or he was “phenomenal” but the night before, he was s**t, boring. I can understand why that BG found it disappointing when he see people in the audience holding up old CC albums, when he is singing songs from is new album. This is not 1982. The 80′s was a great decade for CC. MOVE ON FOLKS!!

  21. Caryn no use talking to the BG fans I guess they don’t have a clue! But Mr BG has to understand his long time fans are going to be there,the show was bad he handled the whole night wrong it sucked.see how many new albums fans buy not many.Rico lol what a joke.

  22. I would have never paid the price of those tickets to hear Culture Club pop hits of 30 yrs ago. I lived it and still have fine recordings of it. and its all on youtube.
    When I spend any amount of money. Thats when I find out what Im paying for. A real fan would be aware that the concert is supporting a New album. Only a fool would have expected anything different. Its ok to look back once in a while…just don’t stare. George and his bandmates on the tour in their present day state. Looked Great! and took us on a up to date great musical show.
    Well worth it.

  23. I was thoroughly impressed, and moved, that he spent time to share some of the old tunes. If you didn’t know the new music going in, you should have purchased the album prior to buying a ticket to hear him play. He was as brilliant as ever. His voice, his demeanor, was amazing. Culture Club fans (and I am one, too) will have their share if they tour next year…I think that’s what I heard. But, as a fan of George, I was happy to be there enjoying George! He made mention a couple of times of the rudeness of the crowd. Tit for tat, I suppose. He wasn’t overly obnoxious in what he said, but he did notice that he was playing for many who were busy doing everything but appreciating the time they were on the stage singing and playing great music for us! It was slighty embarrasing as one in the crowd. No mistake, the man is amazing, brilliant and if I had the liftestyle that would allow, I would go to every show of his on this tour!

  24. The tour is called, “This is What I Do” This is BG own tour with his band. PEOPLE!! THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!!. It is a damn shame, that many people come to the club having old CC albums for him to sign, and (but not all) not promoting him by downloading or buying his current album. I find it very funny if the original CC members were to perform at the same club the next night, then everyone will say that he was, “great” or he was “phenomenal” but the night before, he was s**t, boring when he performed with is own band. I can understand why that BG found it disappointing when he see people in the audience holding up old CC albums (not all), when he is singing songs from is new album. This is not 1982. The 80′s was a great decade for CC. MOVE ON FOLKS!!

  25. I did do research. Boy George said in an interview he would be doing a mix of hits, both CC and solo and his new stuff. He said he would sing the Crying Game. So I naturally assumed it would a mix of old and new from his whole career. Instead it was 80 or 90% his new album. Other artists support new albums all the time, but they don’t play the whole album. They do maybe 40% or 50% new and the rest older stuff.

  26. He always promises a tour with CC but it never happens. Everyone knows he doesn’t get along with the other members of CC. He always fights with them.

  27. then tell me why he was selling t shirts of him in CC then at his stand!!!!!!! he took the money and ran after the concert! and if I would have known he was playing all that crap then I would not have gone, knowing what I know now I much rather hear Roy Haye,John Moss and Mikey Graig and some fill in, that would have been worth the trip than hear that crap Monday night.

  28. The sad part is if he does tour with CC some people may not go because they were so put off by his rude attitude.

  29. The tour is called, ” This is What I Do” This is BG own tour with his band. PEOPLE!! THIS IS NOT A CC TOUR!! It is a damn shame, that many people come to the club having old CC album for him to sign, and (but not all) not promoting him by not buying his album, or downloading it. I find it very funny if the original CC members were to perform at the same club the next night, everyone will say that he was “great” or he was “phenomenal ” but the night before, he was s**t, boring when he performed with his own band. I can understand why that BG found it very disappointing when he see people in the audience holding up old CC albums (not all) when he is singing songs from is new album. This not 1983. The 80′s was a great decade for CC. MOVE ON FOLKS!! AND QUIT CRYING!!

  30. ill never see him again after that joke of a concert! Kiki go jump off a cliff we get it you don’t like cc but that crap you heard Monday night.

  31. Kiki, I think he has made mention that it bothers him to have folks with CC gear asking him to sign it at a Boy George gig. I get that. I bought the new album as soon as it came out. I would have gone even if I didn’t love his new stuff…but I guess I’m fortunate, because I love the old and the new. Culture Club and Boy George. It’s all good to me!

  32. By the way, I managed to get a set list. Victims was also on there. But, I don’t recall they played that. Unfortunately, there were a number of folks at the end right up front pushing and shoving so it was difficult to even focus on George and the band.

  33. I believe person-s complaining are the same like the 3 faces of Eve..Hopefully the nice one will remain the other disappear.Because the gig was awesome and exactly like the article states.George’s voice was spectacular and the his the band was out of site.Wish there was a second show added..

  34. I would have gladly paid more to see it at a real music venue. Like house of Blues or someplace that would weed out the “hangers on, to the past” and the old groupies with their 30 yo albums to sign”. Not to mention the folks with phones in the air all night, in the dark no less. George to me, has lived a very full life, and the new album expresses that journey very well.He has become a real blues artist. Living go tell. Its a different appeal than culture club and that music of the 80s. more discerning, more mature. more musicality, and showing off his versatility and definitely his song writing craft. I was glad he put the crowd in their place. I was offended that folks speak during the show and use their phones all aroung me, I would imagine from his elevation, to look out and see phones in your face at a live concert is rather tough when your singing to People.
    Your either green and growing…or your ripe and rotten. I love the musical journey of the new album. But, I am queer and of the same age. I’ve had my share of problems like the rest. Its a relief to hear someone express overcoming/embracing the bad and gracefully moving on. That is my common thread with the artist.
    I feel as though he gave a very sincere show. Maybe its the British speak that people misinterpret in his candor. Thats just another thing I happen to love about him.And lets be clear. It was Georges personality that brought CC to the masses.
    At least didn’t use the F Bomb, or tell “all you Mutha F’kers put your hands in the air” all night. That happens at every concert now a days. Give me RRRICO any day.
    The only thing I would have liked to see/hear is a percussionist up on stage and the piano could have been a little up in the mix. Especially for the style of songs he was singing.
    But all in all. They Rocked!

  35. DC was a blast George’s voice was to perfection.The band was awesome.I guess some people wanted hear Move Away..(wink) but not me..I was happy to see George and his voice was (out of sight) Hip..New..and still can sing Victims and bring make those sweet memories and than some..But his new material is really up beat and would awesome to hear on Elbow Beach,Bermuda..with a martini in hand,,love George’s solo stuff and the culture club stuff as well..Don’t know what concert Caryn was at but maybe it was a Beber tour LOL

  36. you must have been in lala land if you thought that show was good! like he said maybe it was the booze the show sucked a$$.RICO lol

  37. Must have a dull life posting as different people agreeing with oneself under different alias’ pathetic..laters see ya get a life

  38. A real music venue? Are you for real? The 9:30 club has many times been voted one of the best live music venues in America. You can not ban people from coming who like songs from the 80′s and CC. Every concert that I’ve ever been to by any artist has people taking pictures with their phones and the artist plays a mix of songs old and new. Boy George seems to think the rules that apply to every other artist don’t apply to him.
    I don’t know what concert JMHO was at, but Victims was not on the setlist. As I said I don’t mind some new music, and I didn’t want to be an all 80′s show. I wanted a balance between the two.

  39. And PC, what are you saying, do you have to be gay and of the same age as George to like his music now? One of the things I loved about CC is that it was for everyone. People of all ages and sexual orientations could get into it.

  40. I do agree with Elisabeth about one thing. There was an awful lot of pushing and shoving to get closer to George. It made it unpleasant for me. I would have expected that at a punk show, but at a Boy George show never.
    I don’t understand about him not wanting sign CC stuff. Isn’t he part of CC? I have been to shows by some singers where they have cd’s and posters of their other bands for sale at the merchandise table even though those bands aren’t performing. To me it should all be part of the same thing. You shouldn’t shut out fans of your other band, you should welcome them and they will have a better feeling about your solo material.

  41. I know there will be a lot of upset people but I would rather see Culture Club and that would include Helen Terry. I would not spend money on anyone else.

  42. jmho who ever you are dumb a$$! like BG said get boozed and listen to his crappy new album you yuppie scum.THE SHOW SUCKED!!!

  43. he took the money and ran! after that shi##y show he should have kissed the crowds a$$.and signed everything he could.