Pop legend Boy George and his band are expected to arrive for their Israel concert in November 2017. .
(photo credit: PR)
Of all the bands from the 1980s and ‘90s hitting the nostalgia concert circuit these days, one of the most unlikely must be Culture Club.
When they broke up in 1986, after selling more than 50 million records in the previous four years, their flamboyant front man Boy George was addicted to heroin, interpersonal band communication was torn asunder due to George’s volatile romance with drummer Jon Moss, and the band’s popularity was flagging in correspondence with a drop in quality.
Culture Club, rounded out by Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Mikey Craig (bass guitar), was the perfect act for the explosion of the MTV era – highly visual with George’s androgynous appearance and engaging, outspoken persona out in front, and musically soothing with its scintillating mix of British new wave, American soul and Jamaican reggae.
Hits like “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” “Time (Clock of the Heart)” and “Karma Chameleon” became timepieces for the 1980s but also revealed a timeless quality and deeper talent than the glib videos and garish apparel that accompanied them.
They toured the world – including a Park Hayarkon show in 1985, according to the Hebrew press – and were never far from the top of the charts or the covers of pop culture magazines.
When the bottom fell out, Boy George (born George O’Dowd) suffered through years of tabloid headlines about arrests, lawsuits and convictions, most related to drugs. The nadir may have been the photos that appeared of him as a puffy, nondescript sanitation worker in New York City in 2006 – community service punishment for not showing up at a court hearing.
But in recent years, he’s emerged thinner, healthier and owner of a moderately successful solo career. In addition to releasing new music, he remained in the public eye as a club DJ and a TV celebrity on The Voice in both Britain and Australia.
That has brought George to Israel a few times, performing a DJ set at a huge party at Ronit Farm (north of Tel Aviv) in 2010, returning a year later as guest of producer Mark Ronson at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, and coming back for a set at 2014’s Gay Pride event in Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Culture Club reunion efforts sputtered a few times, until catching fire in 2016 with a 40-date international tour with the original members that was met with enthusiastic response.
The band’s upcoming show in Tel Aviv at the Menora Mivtahim Arena on November 7 has been met with less enthusiastic responses by BDS protesters who have called on the band to back out.
Luckily, George is still as outspoken now as he was then. He told Ynet that he’s gotten a “few tweets” against him whenever he comes to Israel. “I think our message today is more important than any other time. People in Israel need to see me.”
In an interview with Channel 2, referring to himself in the third person, he said, “Boy George is about something really positive and something alternative, and I want to play to my fans wherever they are. Sometimes being true to who you are is the most political thing you can ever do.”
In a tweet last month, he doubled down on performing in Israel, while alluding to some possible internal squabbles and then stressing what’s really important. “Given the abuse we get for playing in Israel and losing a member who refused to play, I think our trip is super relevant. I have my outfits!“
Culture Club will perform on November 7 at the Menora Mivtahim Arena in Tel Aviv.