A 'magical' night with Boy George and Culture Club at Heritage Live concert at Audley End
- Credit: © Celia Bartlett
Here Leigh Adams from Choose 80s reviews Culture Club and more at the opening night of the Heritage Live series at Audley End House and Gardens in Saffron Walden.
Boy George brought a flamboyant touch of culture, as well as a lot of emotion, to the Heritage Live concert at Audley End on Thursday.
Describing the night as “magical”, the Culture Club lead singer echoed the thoughts of the crowd who were so happy to be partying again to live music after months of lockdown.
George said: “Tonight does feel a bit like a miracle. I am definitely not virtual, I am an in-the-room person. I need to be around other human beings.
"We’ve been in the studio this week writing some new Culture Club stuff and it is awesome.
"Such a great time to be making music in this amazing space we’ve had, but now we want to get back to work and entertain and sing and dance and make people feel that joy you feel when you go to a concert.”
As headliners of the Heritage Live gig, Culture Club had the audience up on its feet as the sun went down, playing an hour and a half set that was full of classic hits.
The 80s mega band entertained with top 10 singles including Time, Church of the Poison Mind and Victims, as well as chart-topper Karma Chameleon, and also introduced a couple of new tracks such as Lift Up Your Head.
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A stand-out performance was an emotional rendition of No 1 hit Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.
Introducing the song that launched his pop career, Boy George said: “This is a beautiful song.
"I’ve sung it so many times and it always sounds different every time I sing it, all depending on where my emotions are at that moment.”
The enthusiastic crowd was also treated to a duet with 60s legend Lulu, who was also on the Heritage Live line-up.
Lulu joined Boy George on stage in a vibrant oversized pink shirt and black hat, to sing The Man Who Sold The World.
Lulu, who is still the only British female solo artist to appear in the charts for five straight decades, had earlier belted out her iconic hit Shout to the delight of the crowd, wearing sunglasses, hair piled on top and a 60-inspired fringe dress.
The 60s icon also sang Relight My Fire, the 90s Take That song on which she featured, To Sir With Love, her James Bond theme The Man with The Golden Gun, and the Lulu-penned Tina Turner hit I Don’t Want To Fight, among others.
Joining Culture Club and Lulu on the bill were the girls next door Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, aka Bananarama, whose mega list of hits brought a real party atmosphere to Audley End.
Venus, Cruel Summer, Robert De Niro's Waiting..., Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) and I Want You Back were some of the many hits lapped up by the crowd, who were on their feet, trying to perform some of the famous dance moves.
From the early 80s onwards, Bananarama had been prolific in the pop world, achieving 30 singles in the UK Top 50 from 1982-2009, and earning them a Guiness World Record for the most chart entries ever for an all-female group.
First on the bill for this Heritage Live concert was the amazing Gabrielle, whose voice sounds exactly as it does on her records.
Unfortunately, heavy traffic approaching Audley End led to many missing Gabrielle’s performance.
But some did manage to hear Gabrielle’s smooth soul voice, aptly singing Out of Reach, as they walked quickly to the gates.
It’s 20 years since Gabrielle’s smash hit album Rise, and hit songs from the album including title track and No 1 hit Rise, and the aforementioned Out of Reach (featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary) were just some of the songs performed on the night, as well as the song that launched her career, her No 1 smash Dreams.
The night certainly did seem to have a dream-like quality.
It felt so good to forget about the pandemic for an evening and finally be back in a field listening to live music, and what a night of music it was.
Heritage Live, you lived up to all expectations. Can’t wait until next year!
Following the Culture Club gig on Thursday, James Blunt, Van Morrison plus guests The Waterboys, and Last Night Of The Heritage Proms with Russell Watson and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played the following nights at Audley End.
Take a look at our pictures from the Culture Club concert and see whether you can spot yourself in the crowd.