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Boy George thrills Manila

Boy George (second from left), an epitome of androgynous persona pop history can be proud of, will perform on June 17 and 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

MANILA, Philippines - His look is iconic, so do his band’s songs. And he is coming to Manila at this time when the LGBT community here is at its most profound as a collective soul.

Boy George, no doubt an epitome of androgynous persona pop history can be proud of, will perform on June 17 and 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. He is expected to sing signature Culture Club songs with, yes, drummer Jon Moss, guitarist Roy Hay and bassist Mikey Craig.

But apart from the group’s complete line-up and the excitement of hearing his voice singing live in front of Manila concert goers, what’s being talked about is the essence of bringing in an icon whose very look inspired, at its core, the country’s gay community in dressing up and moving around in style.

“I just really love doing live shows in places where we’ve never been because now we’re a band at our peak and I think you’ll get a surprisingly good show,” said Boy George during his video call to Philippine media last April 21 at Luxent Hotel, Quezon City.

The local press found the self-proclaimed Culture Club CEO surprisingly accommodating during the chat as gay fan-guests started singing the band’s hits and sharing their adulation for him right after the feed went off.

Among the ’80s bands that captured the Philippine market, Culture Club is one of those few that scored really numerous hits that went deep into the public consciousness. In fact, 10 of these can be counted as familiar even to non-die hard Pinoy fans, namely, Karma Chameleon, Miss Me Blind, It’s A Miracle, Move Away, Love Is Love, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, I’ll Tumble For You, Church of the Poison Mind, Mistake Number 3 and The War Song. Two others, Time and Victims, can make a strong case, too.

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Royale Chimes Concerts and Events, netting its biggest fish yet in its growing stable of international stars flown to Manila, is making the highly-anticipated visit possible. One of the promoters had his shirt printed with the words “War Is Stupid,” lifted from the chorus of The War Song.

Obviously, Boy George is on top of the heap when it comes to making statements because he is simply, or should we say fashionably, a walking statement.

Answering a query from The STAR, he noted, “I call myself the CEO as a joke but I guess I’m the face of Culture Club, the spokesperson and the singer.”

Seldom when a frontman acknowledges that he is the heart and soul of his band, as most usually opt to say he is just a member like anyone else. That reply showcased the honesty and courage embedded in him which made him a strong voice for people who can’t come out of the closet.

Yet, humility naturally reigns in his voice, as he said, “I never thought I’d be sitting here 30 years down the line discussing my career. It’s very surprising to still be talking about what I did but it’s a wonderful privilege.”

Culture Club, reunited after more than a decade, is on a 40-city tour to kick off on June 8 in Australia. Last year, the group released its first single, More Than Silence, off a new album called Tribes. Certainly, there will be a lot of party-atmosphere noise as the Boy George tribe in Manila comes together, hats off or on.

Back in the ’80s, the group scored three Top Ten US hits from the debut album, Kissing to Be Clever, which is a phrase that can be heard from Miss Me Blind. Culture Club became the first act to set that milestone since, well, The Beatles.

But more than the records and raves, it’s really the sense of having Boy George in town that roars. He is one to uplift the spirits of the marginalized hip and even carry the torch of the misunderstood millennials.

One may expect that come the Manila concert nights in June, the crowd will not just be composed of the ’80s teenagers who can now easily afford to buy concert tickets themselves. They will be joined by a loud, collective voice, regardless what generation they belong to, for the heartfelt purpose of singing along and partying with a man who in the ’80s led an ensemble of British stars called Band Aid to sing the line “Feed the world” and seemingly without effort defined what it means to be gay and cool.

(For ticket information on Culture Club featuring Boy George Live in Manila, visit www.ticketnet.com.ph.)

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