Gig Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Boy George

People will know Boy George for many different guises and vices. Long haired make up wearing 80’s pop icon, DJ, junkie and even felon. All add to the colourful persona that is George Alan O’Dowd and contributed to the fact that I was uber-excited about the gig at Brum’s premier venue, The Institute.

Boy George

A support band can very often set the tone for an evening. If it’s a dull, dire tribe affair, then often the support act can go very much unnoticed as the crowd talk amongst themselves and applause politely – very much out of British awkwardness – at the end of each song. The same cannot be said of Skinny Lister. A 6 piece British folk band containing 5 singers a mandolin and a double bass. Energy was very much in abundance as the London based band stomped, jigged and rampaged across the stage with their modern take on sea shanties and olde English folk songs and set the scene for the main event. Splendid.

Boy George

Boy George made his way to the stage, hands closed together in prayer/greeting and then proceeded to entertain the crowd for an enthralling 2 hour set comprising of everything from Reggae, 80’s classics, stripped back solos and Bob Dylan covers.

The first thing that became apparent is how nice Boy George actually is, from the minute he picked up the microphone it was evident that he, his band and the audience were all having a blast.

Boy George

He kicked off with songs from his ‘roots’, very much a reggae vibe. Some singers take a little while to warm up and get going, but BG – aided and abetted by a fantastic brass section and excellent backing section was at it from the word dot. Whammo. His voice is sooooooo silky smooth and creamy. If anything it has improved with age.

“Hey Birmingham” greeted the front man “What about Skinny Lister? Punk folk, right up my strata” before launching into the first of the ‘classics’ Church of the Poison Mind’ much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Boy George

Many of the crowd were obviously seasoned BG followers. Not only were many of them splendidly dressed up with echoes of Georges own inimitable style, but he recognised (and conversed with) many of “his regulars”. And for good measure Marilyn, George’s cohort from the 80’s was in attendance – dressed up to the nines and loving it like everybody else.

My personal favourite a cover of Ken Boothes ‘Everything I own’ was expertly delivered and then his latest single ‘My God’ was next up. The place was rocking.

Boy George

The sound at the Institute can sometimes be a little sketchy, but this night it was immense. Whether it was the soundman working his magic, the mix and the expertise of the band or a combination of both, mattered not a jot. The fans, the band and the singer all revelled in it.

Boy George isn’t just a great singer. He’s also a really likeable and quick witted fella. “Will you gay marry me George” shouted one excitable fan. “Forget the Gay Marriages” responded our host, “I’m looking forward to the gay divorces!” Touche!

Boy George

Old song, combined with new, cover version with original and all were delivered with aplomb. A seven song (yes, seven!) Encore followed including a stripped back medley of Karma Chameleon and a beefed up cover of Marc Bolans ‘Get it on’. Then it was on to an acoustic version of his gloriously catchy ‘Hara Krisna’ – with all of the band singing along. Following this was a lovely stripped back version of Culture Club classic ‘Victims’ featuring the singer and a pianist.

Boy George

Then that was it. Lights up after 2 hours of fantastic entertainment for fans new and old from a true gent and great frontman. BG – we salute you!

5 Responses to “Boy George + Skinny Lister at The Institute, Birmingham, UK – 1st April 2014”

  1. Donna Says:

    Great review you summed it up brilliantly !! I was there and George was in tip top form his voice was flawless and the band are amazingly talented . Essex the saxophonist 😉 James Vargas .Skinny Lister where brill different and got the party started . Well done all :)

  2. David Says:

    A great review of a great show. We all had a fantastic night. Its good to see that at last again since the new album was released and George has been back on the road that he is finally getting the recognition and respect he deserves as a talented singer, songwriter and performer. A truly cracking thumping reggae/rock show peppered with beautiful ballads. Just the BEST!

  3. tracey brown Says:

    I couldn’t put it better myself I saw them in Manchester (again) and this is one of the best ( loved the rest though )Skinny Lister was one of the best support ive seen and I just loved the show from start to finish Thankyou George see ya next time xxxx

  4. Jocelyn Says:

    What a excellent review of what sounds like an exceptional evening with George and his band. Sadly I can see one blatantly horrible problem with this gig and that is I WASN’T THERE :( . Hope you all had a wonderful evening and thanks for a brilliant write up and photos.

  5. Diane Says:

    A true icon,Boy George was fantastic at The Ritz Manchester 31/03/14. A great performer with a velvet voice.

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