Angel Air 2005 / 2013
Aural version of the Boy’s band’s most glorious performance – with a visual addition for an all-round experience.
The idea of CULTURE CLUB filling The Albert Hall might seem ridiculous, but they’ve never been your regular pop band, not with a front man like Boy George, and when the classic line-up got back for a couple of shows the fans flew in flocks, as seen on a DVD which, previously a standalone item, forms a companion to a concert CD now. It’s the aural portion of it that allows one to sip the music like a nicely aged wine and estimate the conceptuality of the group’s oeuvre – the quartet and their friends revisit four of CLUB’s five albums playing most of “Colour By Numbers” and neglecting “House Of Fire” – where familiar songs interlock in a fresh way.
Yet the complete footage is peppered with George’s saucy talk, retained in audio version only in the silky “Victims,” and makes clear that it’s not Boy but Euan Morton, who portrayed him in the “Taboo” musical, that sets things in motion with “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” to put forward the heady skank cooked by Jon Moss and Mikey Craig. It also results in a new meaning of the “You’re too young, I’m too wise, this is parody” line in “Black Comedy” that, coupled with “I’ll Tumble For You,” is amplified thanks to the singer’s magnetism. “Karma Chameleon” and “Church Of The Poisoned Mind” come brimful with youthful zest but, in the elder statesman role, George hits new heights with a soulful “Strange Voodoo,” and “That’s The Way” which grows into a spiritual hymn.
Not in the best of voices and sounding like Roger Chapman on the “Sign Language” chorus (retitled “Gimme A Sign”), Boy’s charisma shines through all of the pieces which also include his solo cuts like the infectious “Bow Down Mister” and gives logic to the raucous inclusion of “Starman,” that alien cover in the CLUB canon, in the set. Since then, the original foursome have never appeared on stage, and this fact turns the Albert Hall document, the group’s first-ever concert to have been out, into a pleasurable thing of great import.