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State Fair lands fun '80s throwback concert with Culture Club, B-52s

Boy George performed with Culture Club at Myth in Maplewood on a 2016 tour. / Star Tribune file

Boy George performed with Culture Club at Myth in Maplewood on a 2016 tour. / Star Tribune file

Time to break out the eyeliner and hair spray for a Minnesota State Fair concert again. Ladies might want to wear some, too.

Glammed-up ‘80s pop hero Boy George and his band Culture Club will hit the fair grandstand on Monday, Sept. 3, joined by two other innovative MTV-era pop acts, the B-52’s and Thompson Twins singer Tom Bailey. The Labor Day gig comes midway through a three-month tour with the three acts.

Tickets (all reserved seats) go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for $35-$45 via eTix, 1-800-514-3849 or the State Fairgrounds ticket office.

Known for the hits “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” as much as for George’s androgynous look and openness of his sexuality, Culture Club has done several well-received reunion tours since 2011, which have doubled as pride celebrations. George said in a 2016 interview with the Star Tribune, “When I travel round the world, I do have people who come up to me and say, ‘You helped me to be myself,’ ‘You helped me come to terms with my sexuality,’ whatever it may be. And I’m proud of that contribution.”

“Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster” hitmakers B-52’s have been steadily tooling along on tour all these years even as their members work on different projects, including a solo tour with singer Cindy Wilson coming to the Turf Club next week. “Hold Me Now” singer Bailey is the one rare catch on the bill, having largely kept off the road since the Thompson Twins called it quits in 1993.

Irish bard Glen Hansard thrills St. Paul crowd with St. Patrick's Day concert



Irish mist enveloped the stage at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul on Saturday night. (OK, it was just stage fog but stay with me here.) What a perfect ambiance for a St. Patrick’s Day concert by Irish bard Glen Hansard.

Hansard is an engaging singer-songwriter, all-around charmer and garrulous performer who talks about love, drinking (he’s Irish), what his songs are about, what he did that day.

Let’s start there. Hansard mentioned that he had had a late night on Friday when he finally hit his bed at the St. Paul Hotel. “They have like seven pillows,” he assured us after whining about usually sleeping on his tour bus. Then he woke up to the sounds of fiddles and bugles and cheering. He looked out his window at the St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown St. Paul. “Ambulances were trying to get through the crowd,” he observed. He smiled. “You do it [St. Patrick’s Day] with more passion than we [Irish people] do.”

One of popular music’s great gabbers in concert, Hansard, 47, responded to shouts from fans (“you can’t hear me. My apologies. I’ll talk louder or you can talk quieter”) but more importantly shared little philosophies and back stories of his songs.

In conversation, he philosophized a lot about love. “This song is about love,” he said introducing “Bird of Sorrow.” “The song is about love advice, which is [BS]. There is no love advice.”

But Hansard was also about the music in his generous 2-hour 20-minute performance. There were tunes from his fine new album “Between Two Shores” as well as from his stints with the Swell Season (the duo featured in the movie “Once” for which Hansard won an Oscar for best song) and the Frames (a punkish, Dylan-influenced rock band).

Among the brightest highlights on the dimly lit, foggy stage were a rockin’ cover of “Gloria” with horns that would have made Van Morrison proud; Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” with updated lyrics about his landlord Fred Trump and then some lines about Donald Trump; the heavy rockin,’ Neil Youngish “Didn’t He Ramble”; the sweet, pretty “Wedding Ring” delivered with a hushed, romantic voice; “Her Mercy,” one of those horn-punctuated Irish soulful rockers complete with a little taste of Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows in April” in mid-song; the bare-bones Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly” with a tasty string section; a spontaneously improvised treatment of the Pixies’ “Gigantic”; the Frames’ brooding, intense “Fitzcarraldo”; the Ireland-meets-New Orleans-flavored “Lowly Deserter”; and the gorgeous “Gold” from the movie “Once.”

Geez, that’s almost half the set.

And we must mention the finale, “Auld Triangle,” written by political prisoner Brendan Behan. Every member of Hansard’s top-shelf 11-member band – plus a couple of crew members -- got to sing a verse. The horn section offered: “On a St. Paul evening/As we are leaving/The girls are screaming…”


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