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Mark Ritchie
Culture Club
Writing Credits:

Culture Club return home for the holidays and perform at London's Wembley Arena after a hugely successful 60 city world tour.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English PCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 12/8/2017

• Backstage Interviews
• Interview with Boy George
• Trailer
• DVD Copy
• CD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Culture Club: Live at Wembley [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 29, 2018)

During much of 1982 to 1984, Culture Club looked primed to enjoy a long career as chart-topping musicians. Underneath his glam androgynous image, vocalist Boy George provided enough witty charm to disarm his detractors, and the band created an effortless form of multicultural pop that showed room to grow.

And then came the fall of 1984. Rushed onto shelves to capitalize on the band’s then-upcoming tour, Waking Up with the House On Fire lacked the songwriting quality of the band’s first two albums and essentially flopped.

After 1983’s smash Colour By Numbers peaked at number 2 in the US, House sputtered to number 26. Numbers generated three top 10 singles, but House’s “War Song” only got to number 17, and other releases couldn’t crack the top 30.

Thus began Culture Club’s downfall. George got into drugs, 1986’s From Luxury to Heartache sold even worse than House, and the band split soon after that.

So much for the possibility that they would dominate the charts for years and years, but time can’t keep a good 80s band down, so Culture Club came back on occasion. 1999’s reunion album Don’t Mind If I Do tanked, but they band popped up a few more times.

These efforts led them back to the studio for the still-unreleased (as of January 2018) Tribes and a 2015-16 tour. Recorded at the end of this trek, Live at Wembley offers a snapshot of the band 35 years after their start.

As expected, Wembley relies heavily on Culture Club’s brief discography. From 1982’s debut Kissing to Be Clever, we get “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”, and “Time (Clock of the Heart)”.

1983’s Colour By Numbers brings us “Church of the Poisoned Mind”, “Karma Chameleon”, “It’s a Miracle”, “Miss Me Blind”, “Victims” and “Black Money”. 1984’s Waking Up With the House on Fire only provides “The War Song”, and 1986’s From Luxury to Heartache delivers nothing more than “Move Away”.

George’s 1987 solo single “Everything I Own” also appears, and the band previews Tribes with “Like I Used To” and “Different Man”. Finally, the show concludes with a cover of T Rex’s “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”.

I saw Culture Club pretty early on this tour, as I went to their local show in the summer of 2015. As I went into the concert, my main concern related to the state of George’s voice, as I’d heard more than a few stories about his loss of range.

Live in 2015, these fears proved true – for the first couple of songs, at least. Once George warmed up a bit, he sounded much better – or I got used to his altered tones.

Or both, probably. If you listen to the George of Wembley, you’d be wise to heed the example of modern-day Elton John. Like Elton, George can’t reproduce the work he did in his heyday, but he still musters a reasonable level of expressiveness.

That said, I suspect George would’ve benefited from a recording made earlier in the tour. While I won’t claim he sounded substantially better at the 2015 show I attended, I do think he boasted better range back then. Most vocalists display wear at the end of long tours, so it’d have been nice to hear George without all the stress on his cords.

As for the band, they provide perfectly competent renditions of the songs. No one stands out as exceptional, but no one flops, either, so we get more than adequate versions of the hits.

In terms of the home video presentation itself, Wembley comes from one flaw: too damned many crowd shots. These subside somewhat as the program progresses, but I still think we find too many of them, and they create a sporadic annoyance.

Otherwise, director Mark Ritchie shows good restraint. The program lacks any visual affectations, and Ritchie makes no attempt to turn this into a long music video.

Editing seems fairly sedate, and this allows us to enjoy the show without cheap, tacky attempts to “enliven” the proceedings. I appreciate that, as too many concert shows work overtime to throw visual “flair” our way.

All in all, Wembley offers a fairly enjoyable snapshot of Culture Club 35 years down the road. It never threatens to become a great concert, but it entertains well enough.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Culture Club: Live at Wembley appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Shot on hi-def cameras, the image didn’t excel but it seemed more than adequate.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Some occasional softness interfered, especially in the show’s earlier moments, but those elements didn’t create notable distractions, and the majority of the program seemed well-defined.

Jaggies and moiré effects remained absent. No signs of edge haloes or source flaws materialized.

In terms of colors, the lighting and video created most of the hues. The band tended toward dark clothes, so they didn’t give the show visual pizzazz, but the other components added a varied palette that looked clear and smooth.

Blacks were deep and tight, and shadows showed reasonable accuracy. Nothing here dazzled but the visuals were fine.

As for the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a reasonable sonic experience. The mix mostly focused on the front, where the instruments provided fairly good stereo spread.

The surrounds added reinforcement and crowd noise but didn’t play a major part. Some semi-unique instrumentation occasionally cropped up in the back speakers, but those moments didn’t occur often.

Audio quality remained positive. Vocals seemed natural and broad, and instruments showed nice range and punch.

Bass response added some depth and the mix displayed good dynamics. Though not great, this became a better than average mix.

A few extras appear, and we start with Backstage Interviews. These last five minutes, 28 seconds and provide remarks from musicians Boy George, Jon Moss, Josiah Woodson, Alex Asher, fashion stylist Vee Bradley and an unnamed tour manager. We get superficial remarks that don’t tell us much of use.

In addition to a trailer, a Boy George Interview runs 23 minutes, 55 seconds. The vocalist talks about his musical roots and aspects of his life and career. I doubt George offers any revelations, but he covers the material in a likable, engaging manner.

Two extra discs appear, as we get a DVD copy of the show. We also find a CD copy of the concert. The CD includes all the same songs as the Blu-ray and the DVD.

Finally, the package concludes with a booklet. It mixes photos and credits.

Decades after their commercial heyday, Culture Club bring back the hits during Live at Wembley. Though the concert never electrifies, it delivers a largely enjoyable take on the band’s material. The Blu-ray provides mostly positive picture and audio with a handful of supplements. Culture Club’s 1984 Kiss Across the Ocean - available on a 2006 Greatest Hits DVD – remains the band’s best concert experience on video, but Wembley entertains

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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