One man wore a string of green Mardi Gras beads over a "Frankie Says Relax" T-shirt. Another wore a nearly identical copy of Boy George's often-replicated numbered outfit with multicolored braids and a full face of makeup. Yet another woman stuck to a minimalist '80s homage, capping her modern-day outfit with side ponytail wrapped in a pink scrunchie. But for the performers at last night's Pompano Beach Amphitheater concert, the show was more than just an excuse to cash in on nostalgia for the decade of synths and big hair. Instead, opener Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins and co-headliners the B-52's and Culture Club blew the dust off their hits and deep cuts, exposing the classic roots of the songs they dressed up in '80s pop sheen.
Tom Bailey took to the stage shortly after doors opened at 6:30 p.m. Some stragglers sat at tables for preshow tacos and beer near the concession stands, but most audience members were already in their seats for the opening set. Bailey went nearly three decades without performing the Thompson Twins' songs and only recently began playing hits like "Doctor! Doctor!" and "Hold Me Now" to eager audiences. Dressed head-to-toe in white like his all-women band behind him, Bailey switched off between electric guitar and heavy synths at the front of the stage. And though he went half his life without playing the songs he penned as a youth, he finally seems comfortable leaning into the Zeitgeist he had a hand in crafting. He introduced most songs by name, but he called "If You Were Here" by its colloquial name: "the song from Sixteen Candles."
Deep into Boy George & Culture Club's headlining set, George said fans who had Culture Club posters in their bedrooms in the '80s were "a little out there... even if they didn't know it until later on." But boys in heavy makeup aren't hard to find these days. Women over 60 in colorful beehive wigs and glam sequined outfits? That's unique even by 2018 standards. The B-52's were so far ahead of their time when they started out in the mid-'70s that music and fashion are still struggling to catch up over four decades later.
"We're the B-52's and we want to take you on a trip. Do you wanna go?" singer Kate Pierson asked early in the set before the band launched into their songs "Mesopotamia," "Lava," and "52 Girls." And while the audience stood and danced for a large portion of the set, a five-hour early-July show in humid South Florida quickly took its toll. "Who put super glue on
The audience was split pretty evenly between Culture Club and B-52 fans, so by the time Boy George and company took the stage over three hours after doors opened, the exhaustion of Monday morning loomed and some fair weather fans decided to book early. But not before Culture Club opened with "Let's Dance," a touching tribute to George's North Star, David Bowie. The rest of the set leaned heavily into Culture Club's reggae roots, and the 12-piece band accentuated the Latin rhythms that underlie songs such as "I'll Tumble 4 Ya."
The set spanned the band's discography and long hit list including "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
with lyrics in hand (he'd forgotten the words the previous night), George teased the audience, saying he had "a sneaky suspicion you might be waiting for something in particular." Five hours into the night, they got what they were waiting for, with a harmonica-laden performance of "Karma Chameleon," and George rushed off the stage just as quickly as his exhausted audience.