Updated June 8, 2022 - 3:04 pm
Boy George might have tumbled on a new slogan for Las Vegas.
“To me, it’s Destination Joy,” George said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s not Destination Miserable. People come there to have a good time, so let’s do it.”
Joy George, Boy George, whatever works. The superstar is leading Culture Club to Encore Theater on Friday and Saturday night. It’s the band’s first appearance in Vegas since a double-headlining show with B-52s at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center in September 2018.
With his 61st birthday looming June 14, George’s voice sounds more robust these days, more resonant and thoughtful. It makes sense, because George himself has added new depth and perspective to his career.
“I’m working on different versions of our songs, bringing them to a sort of interesting middle ground, where I sing in the voice I have now, which is a deeper voice, a bigger voice,” George said in a phone chat Thursday afternoon. “That coupled with my experiences, what I’ve been through. We do this slightly different version of ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,’ because that song in particular isn’t the same song it was 30 years ago.”
George’s inspiration for this classic tweaking was none other than Matt Goss. The former (and we confidently anticipate, returning) Strip headliner at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace and the 1Oak Nightclub at the Mirage played the Palladium in London last month.
George was a guest at the show, where Goss played a more sullen, measured version of his “When Will I Be Famous?”
“That’s the reason I wanted to go back and attack ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,’ because of what Matt did with that song,” George said. “I was looking at the audience and they were not disappointed. They were getting the song, you know, but in a different way than they got it 20 years ago or whatever. It was really interesting, because it makes you realize the song is the thing, above all else.”
The current version of Culture Club includes George’s longtime mates from the ’80s, guitarist/keyboardist Roy Hay and bassist Mikey Craig tucked into a 10-piece band. George says to expect all the hits. “Karma Chameleon,” “It’s A Miracle,” “Miss Me Blind,” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” were played in Wednesday’s tour opener in San Diego.
Though the band has delved into reinvention of some hits, the original arrangements are planned for Vegas. As George says, “In most cases, these songs have been dragged back to what they were.”
George has often toyed with the idea of performing in residency, or more extended engagement, in Las Vegas.
“I love the idea of a revolving show, that showcases Culture Club and also all of the stuff I’ve done, with all these amazing songs,” George said. “I’d love to do say to someone in the audience, ‘Gimme your best line!’ and here we go.”
George remains fan of all genres, reeling off a list of inspirations that includes Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liberace.
“I was in Las Vegas when Liberace was still alive, still playing, and he was one of those people I wish I’d met,” I can’t remember why it never happened, but he was such an inspiration, having seen him on TV,” George said. “All of the things that I used to think were old-fashioned about Las Vegas, I think have really changed for me, you know? It’s become a super-hip place to be, not like it was 40 years ago. Everybody wants to play there now.”
The recording star says he knows what a Boy George residency production would look like.
“I want to walk onstage and say, ‘Liberace sent me!’” George said. “I don’t know how it would go over, legally, but I think it would show where I’m coming from. I’m ready for a non-stop festival.”
The Boe show
A plug here for a man of international acclaim who has also graced a karaoke show, Tony Award-winner Alfie Boe. The star of shows at London’s West End, on Broadway and for the Queen of England makes his debut on Friday and Saturday night at Westgate’s International Theater. Boe was also nominated for a Grammy for the “Les Misérables: The Staged Concert.”
Boe has developed a production specifically for the International Theater, replete with Broadway tunes, best-sellers, classics and such. In a classic VegasVille moment a year ago almost to the day, Boe took the mic at Super Karaoke at Westgate SuperBook. His version of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” shook the cages. Great guy, too. Hotel brass is excited for the weekend’s performances. We might be seeing more of the Boe show in Vegas.
A 1970s revival unfolded on Wednesday at Myron’s at the Smith Center, during Earl Turner’s latest tour de force. Seated in the audience were “Good Times” sitcom star and veteran stand-up Jimmie “J.J.” Walker, Bubba Knight of Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Antonio Fargas, who played Huggy Bear on “Starsky and Hutch.”
Turner also bopped himself in the head while slipping off his acoustic guitar. He had a welt over his right eye and looked like a prize fighter for two-thirds of the show. No matter. He won by knockout. Catch the rematch at Myron’s on Sept. 28.
Cool Hang Alert
The premiere of a new burlesque show, “LadyLike,” is set to premiere 10 p.m. Sunday at Mosaic On the Strip. The show goes retro, yet is also modern. How do they do it? Maren Wade (“The Cocktail Cabaret,” “50 Shades! The Parody”) heads up the cast. More is revealed at mosaiconthestrip.com.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.