Culture Club, Heaven, London: Boy George is in fine voice at his old haunt

For their first gig in 12 years, Culture Club return to the first London venue they ever played

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The Independent Culture

Boy George clearly means a lot to a lot of people. At Culture Club's first live performance in 12 years, Heaven was packed with the band's most hardcore of fans - original vinyls were held, memorabilia phone cases were carried, supportive T-shirts worn and a banner waved with the words "Duran Duran who?"

The setting, the legendary gay club hidden under the arches of Charing Cross station, also had significance; Heaven was the first London venue the band played at back in 1982.

The band opened with the surprisingly upbeat given its title "Church of the Poison Mind", and from the outset it was clear that Boy George's voice sounds as great as it ever did - a tender tenor sound that still resonates.

On stage, George, now 53, is the perfect mix of serious and playful. He is serious about his music and was in complete control of his skilled band, but still playfully interacted with his audience without ever seeming desperate for approval.

The band performed a mix of their older hits and new material from their forthcoming album, Tribes, including the country-inspired "Runaway Train" chosen as the finale track. Old classic "War Song" was deconstructed, the tempo slowed and then restored to its original pace. "Karma Chameleon" was a reminder of what a truly great pop song should be, and "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" still nigglingly catchy. The show lost some of its energy in the second half, as a series of slower tracks were performed with less punch.

George was occasionally almost aloof with his crowd, at one point chastising two members of the audience for talking while he was performing, then pointedly singing "More Than Silence". But, then again, Boy George has always possessed an out-of-reach allure.

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