Boy George was as cool as a karma cucumber -- until he wasn't.
For much of Culture Club's performance at Treasure Island Casino Friday night, the charasmatic lead singer smoothly led one of the early 80s most popular bands through a litany of greatest hits -- "Karma Chameleon," "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, "Church of the Poison Minds" -- all without spoiling his sharply coordinated outfits with sweat stains.
Club may have rocked arenas in it prime, but George rarely busted a move back then, either vocally or physically. That hasn't changed much. His dance steps still look like an instructional video for a beginning aerobics class and, aside from channeling Elton John on a couple ballads, he doesn't show off his vocal chops.
That's always been Club's calling card: Easy listening pop with a dash of ska, reggae and Motown. Serve shaken, not stirred.
George, who made headlines 35 years ago for his androgynous appearance, can now finally embrace his most appropriate identity: Lounge performer, more Dean Martin than disco duck. He still sounds great, and has an easy rapport with audience members, especially in close quarters like a casino event center.
"I'm bizarre? I'm bizarre?" he said to an overly excited fan in the front row. "That is a compliment. Wouldn't you be a little disappointed if you came to see Culture Club and Boy George wasn't a little bizarre?"
Well, yes, especially when the show consists of 17 numbers, considerably shorter than the 21-song setlist they played at the Myth this past July.
Those looking for histrionics, finally got it when George implored silence during the launch of "Victims." Just 30 seconds into the number, he wasn't satisfied.
"We won't do this song," he said, cutting off his 12-member backup band. "I'm not singing a ballad while people talk. Move on."
George got over his mild temper tantrum quickly, thanks in no small part to Prince. As he did back in July, the band led the crowd through a sweet version of "Purple Rain" in the encore with George beaming his biggest smile of the night as the audience waved their arms back and forth.
"Let's kiss and makeup!" he said, before launching into the scheduled finale, a fully committed workout of T Rex's "Get It On."
Club could have ended the night with that bang of the gong, but George gamely took another shot at "Victims" -- and this time he got the reverence he had craved.