The George flag flies again

Boy George performs at the Isle of Wight Festival. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Boy George performs at the Isle of Wight Festival. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
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A GLANCE at the roll call of vintage pop acts performing at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena tonight provides a flashback to one of the most momentous events in music.

A GLANCE at the roll call of vintage pop acts performing at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena tonight provides a flashback to one of the most momentous events in music.

In some ways the Here & Now 10th anniversary tour is like a mini reunion of artists who appeared on the original Band Aid record Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Boy George, for one, is happy to perform alongside Midge Ure, Jason Donovan, Pepsi & Shirlie, Belinda Carlisle, Flock Of Seagulls and Jimmy Somerville, of The Communards – but it wasn’t always that way.

“I know some of the people,” says the Culture Club legend, who admits he was a bit wary of his chart colleagues back in the day.

“When you’re younger you think everything is a threat and everything is competition when you’re in music. When you get older and you realise there’s nowhere to go, you don’t have to get anywhere, all that pressure is removed and it just makes you more relaxed.

“The people on these tours I’ve ‘met’ for the first time really, although I’ve crossed paths with them back in the day. Actually now we can have a decent conversation, which is really nice.”

And where once George was famed for his acid tongue, these days he’s an easier-going character who is clearly more reflective on a life that has seen him serve very well publicised jail time and overcome addiction. His ego has also been re-calibrated, it seems.

“This is what we do, so it’s not odd,” he says of being put together on one stage with so many other acts. “What we do is make music. Midge is fantastic on stage. I saw him on one of the last ones I didn’t appear on and thought he was fantastic.

“When you’re 26 you think ‘When I get older I won’t want to do this’, but it’s in your blood. Certainly at the moment my life’s great and I feel really positive and it feels nice. It doesn’t feel alien, it kind of feels right.”

But George is not simply looking to the past in his career. In January the pop icon released his first solo album in almost 10 years. Ordinary Alien featured a collection of tracks matching George with Berlin-raised Kinky Roland’s mod-pop production. As songwriters and all-round creative entities, the pair have worked closely over the past 15 years and Ordinary Alien saw George tendering new material after reaching around 15,000 fans a night on the sell-out European tour with Night Of The Proms in 2010.

Next year will see Culture Club re-uniting for a world tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a band and artist who boasts combined sales of 50 million records, including his contribution to Mark Ronson’s album The Business International.

“I’ve always sung Karma Chameleon and Don’t You Really Want To Hurt Me – there’s a handful of those classic hits you just have to do,” he says ahead of tonight’s set.

“Even when you do your own shows, my own, I play those songs. I work a lot. I DJ and do lots of different things so dipping into the ’80s thing isn’t such a big deal.

“If it was all like this I would probably retire; if that was all I had to do I probably wouldn’t do it. I do know the ’80s are over... sometimes I think I’m the only one who does.”