Canberra Centre Masthead

Renew your Culture Club membership

Emma Macdonald

Celebrating diversity might seem very 21st century, but Culture Club were doing it way back in 1982.

Before then, bands featuring a gay cross-dressing Irish singer, a black Briton on bass, a Jewish drummer and a blonde Englishman on guitar and keyboards were fairly thin on the ground. Non-existent in fact.

Culture Club were part of the new wave of British music that fascinated the world in the 1980s, certainly at the more controversial end.

And like any band that peaked then, a period of fan disinterest followed, generally sparked back into life by the celebrity of androgynous singer Boy George, who most recently earned a legion of young Australian fans with his fresh and cheeky judging on the latest season of The Voice judges.

But now the Culture Club are experiencing a second wave of popularity – surfing a tide of nostalgia and selling out concerts to a new fan base as well as those who were rusted on the first time around

Speaking from his base in LA ahead of Culture Club’s Canberra concert on Wednesday 6 December, guitarist Roy Hay admitted this would be the group’s first visit to the nation’s capital. But he noted Boy George had reported positive things after he made a flying appearance to guest DJ at the opening of Kokomo’s in June.

Certainly, the queues of fans lining up down the street in mid-winter for the frontman bodes well for the city’s level of affection for the band.

The AIS concert brings all four original members – Boy George, Roy Hay, Jon Moss and Mikey Craig – plus a massive new band including a horn section and backup singers to the stage.

Roy said it was always a pleasure to bring the band back together for a tour – having sold out some of the biggest venues around the world last year – including the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and London’s Wembley Arena.

“I think it is a little bit sweeter the second time around and we approach it with a little more humility and gratitude. It is an honour and privilege to get to play our music again, and I think you take it for granted when you are young – thinking the world owes you.”

The 80s revival was a result, according to Roy, of new listeners recognising just how good the music from that period was.

“I think it was just a great era for music filled with good bands who wrote their own songs, had something to say and cared about things. Obviously, the 60s were important and the 70s were an indulgent period for rock. But punk changed everything and the 80s rode off the back of that when everyone had quite a lot of attitude.”

“This sense of mass nostalgia is good, bringing positive memories of teenaged years and also bringing new generations of fans.”

For those new to the party, Culture Club scored three Top Ten US hits from their debut album Kissing to Be Clever in 1982 – becoming the first group to hit that milestone since The Beatles.

That album would go on to sell over 100 million singles, and 50 million albums worldwide, with Top 10 hits in every country, including “Karma Chameleon,” “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” and “Time”.

The tour promises all the big hits and will debut material from a new album, Tribes, due for release next year.

the essentials

What: Culture Club’s Canberra concert, supported by Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins and Eurogliders.
When: Wednesday 6 December
Where: AIS Arena, Leverrier Crescent, Bruce
Tickets: Available here


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author