Photos and review by Wendy Robinson
A couple of hours north of Sydney, nestled in the lush green expanse of the Hunter Valley, sits Hope Estate Winery, the serene and picturesque location for the NSW leg of Culture Club‘s Encore Tour. Featuring a lineup that seems to have come straight from the posters on my teenage bedroom wall, the concert featured support from five of Australia’s most iconic bands from the 80’s.
Wa Wa Nee kicked off proceedings, their hit song ‘Stimulation‘ warming up the crowd, before David Sterry of the band Real Life got the early crowd singing along to ‘Send Me An Angel‘. The stage was then taken over by Kids In The Kitchen, who livened the audience up further, playing hits such as ‘Current Stand‘, and my personal favourite of theirs, ‘Change In Mood‘. The crowd stayed on their feet to welcome Pseudo Echo on stage, who played favourites like ‘Listening‘ before getting the audience truly warmed up with their massive hit cover of ‘Funky Town‘, one of the highlights of the evening. Next up, 1927 calmed things down with their mellow string of contemplative hits ‘That’s When I Think Of You‘, ‘Compulsory Hero‘, and rounding out their set with one of 1988’s biggest songs, ‘If I Could‘.
As the sun went down, most of the crowd started moving towards the front, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Boy George and Culture Club to the stage, and the wait was definitely worth it. Opening their set with three fan favourites – ‘Church Of The Poison Mind‘, ‘It’s A Miracle‘, and ‘I’ll Tumble 4 Ya‘ – set audience excitement to high and anyone would have been hard pressed to find someone not singing along. With a mixture of new and old songs, several costume changes, and friendly, comfortable bantering, Culture Club transported the audience back to a simpler, and to be honest, more colourful time. Boy George’s voice has lost none of its quality in the years since the band was a 1980’s worldwide phenomenal success, and the crowd too was in fine voice when *the song that started it all* – ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me‘ – was played. The band said their goodbyes after playing the 1984 hit ‘The War Song‘, but the crowd was having none of that, cheering them back to the stage for an encore featuring ‘Karma Chameleon‘, and a wonderful and emotional rendition of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain‘. Boy George then announced that he’ll be gracing our small screens, taking his place as a judge on the 2017 season of ‘The Voice’, before an elaborate cover of T-Rex’s ‘Get It On‘ ended the evening. Boy George thanked the audience for coming, and with loud cheers the audience thanked him back, clapping Culture Club off stage with a loudly enthusiastic round of applause.