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Boy George And BBC Phil Reviewed

Jonathan Payne joins in the fun

Written by . Published on September 22nd 2014.

Boy George And BBC Phil Reviewed


ALTOGETHER now: 'War, war is stupid/And people are stupid/And love means nothin'/In some strange quarters'... I always felt that this was one of the funnier, more memorable choruses in a top ten pop song.

The orchestra was getting into its stride, or the songs better-suited the orchestrations, with the last couple of tracks from side one really taking off

And when The War Song was beltingly-well sung by Boy George and his guests, Jimmy Somerville, John Grant, Holly Cook and Eve Gallagher, backed by the full array of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, as the final number in this concert, the crowd singing along seemed to agree. 

This was the third concert in the BBC Philharmonic Presents (John Grant, a Blue Peter special and Jarvis Cocker are among other forthcoming highlights).

This time it was a track by track run through of Culture Club's most succesful album, the ten million selling Colour by Numbers (1983). The original foursome of Culture Club are touring this autumn, but only Boy George, in fetching Army and Navy camouflage suit topped with bronze eyeliner and a bronze trilby, was out front tonight. But he had some guest vocalists up his sleeve. 

They kicked off with Karma Chameleon. The blue-eyed reggae lilt played by an orchestra was a little awkward (and the harmonica was missed), and the Boy was a little less velvetty-voiced than three decades ago.

Better was to come with Holly Cook belting out It's a Miracle, and John Grant performing a masterful Black Money. His sonorous tenor matched the arrangement, so even though most of the audience didn't have a clue who he was (his Pale Green Ghosts was many peoples' album of the year in 2012), his heartwrecked rendition of 'But when you love some one/And they don't love you in return...' had people catching their breath. 

The orchestra was getting into its stride, or the songs better-suited the orchestrations, with the last couple of tracks from side one (the Phil retuned before 'side two') really taking off, including the John Barry-like Changing Every Day, guest-vocalist Eve Gallagher tearing it up like Dusty Springfield.

Her and Boy George's Church of the Poison Mind was riotously good, her backing vocals matching the Helen Terry original. Mister Man had a fantastic salsa swing, and Victims was melancholic and dolorous, with the battery of percussion and kettle drums crashing in.

Boy George, Jimmy and friends

Boy George, Jimmy and friends

We then went 'off album', with audience favourites Time (Clock of the Heart) and Jimmy Somerville crooning a wonderful Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? with some odd scatting from George - he was certainly enjoying himself - and it ending with a hint of a Bronski Beat Why? mash-up.

“Didn't she do well?” asked Jimmy, rhetorically. 

Ten thousand people applied for the 200 free tickets. As Salford City Council sponsors the BBC Phil, a third of the tickets were ring-fenced for Salford residents, as they are for all of these events.This concert will be broadcast on Sara Cox's Radio 2 show this coming Saturday night, as well as on the BBC red button over the weekend. Catch it if you can. 


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AnonymousSeptember 24th 2014.

I think it's sad that the other members of Culture Club weren't involved in this somehow. It just feels wrong to me. Were they not there because they didn't want to be or because George or the producers decided they weren't wanted? This has never been explained.

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