When Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins heard the news that he was asked to be on a bill with a pair of his favorite bands from the ‘80s — the B-52s and Boy George and Culture Club — he immediately signed on for The Life Tour.
“How could I not,” Bailey said while calling from Austin. “I love both of those bands.” Bailey offered ten different takes on the aforementioned bands and the tour, which stops Tuesday, July 17 at Koka Booth Amphitheatre.
1. If Bailey was stuck in the Sahara, he would choose the B-52s debut album as his music.
Well, that already happened to Bailey. “Many years ago while on holiday in Morocco, I thought it would be cool to drive over the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara desert. So I rented a car and I popped in the B-52s eponymous first album and was loving it. I was listening to ‘Planet Claire’ and ‘Rock Lobster’ and all was good until I couldn’t remove the cassette or change the volume. The car stereo was broken. I had a 12-hour drive with one album. I heard that album about 16 times. I would do it again if I was on my way to the Sahara. I’ll have to tell the B-52s about this today.”
2. Bailey just met the B-52s recently but he has been pals with the members of Culture Club since their salad days.
“Back then George was a wild animal,” Bailey says. “He had a lot of fun. But today he’s in fantastic form. He’s such a great crooner. He’s healthy and energetic.
3. Expect some surprises.
“It’s not the conventional show that you might expect,” Bailey said. “Yes, the hits will be played but there are some covers thrown in by the bands.”
4. The B-52s are not showing their age.
“When I watched the B-52s, I was blown away by their energy and their musicianship,” Bailey says. “I can just watch (drummer) Sterling (Campbell) play.” Not a bad idea. Campbell is an exceptional percussionist, who was part of David Bowie’s band and has also performed with David Byrne, Soul Asylum and Duran Duran.
5. It’s an evening of party tunes.
“When you look at what the B-52s and Culture Club do, it’s all about having a good time,” Bailey says. “It’s a show in which you can dance and just forget about everything else that’s going on in the world.”
6. Boy George is a brave dude.
“George has guts,” Bailey says. “No one talks about it now but when you look back, saying what he said back in the day and dressing the way he did, well, it couldn’t have been easy. I’m in Texas right now speaking to you and George could have been killed in this state 30-years ago just for being George. It’s amazing how far society has come in terms of tolerance.”
7. The fans of the bands are intense. “It surprises me how into it the fans are,” Bailey says. “I recently rewrote the lyrics to the song ‘If You Were Here.’ I mentioned what the new words were on the radio. Two days later a fan came up to me to show me that she tattooed the new words on her arm. That’s a little out there but that’s how it is with fans of the Thompson Twins, Culture Club and the B-52s.”
8. The Thompson Twins might not have happened if the cost of drum machines and synthesizers failed to drop during the ‘70s.
“That made a huge difference,” Bailey says. “Musicians only have so much money.”
9. When the Thompson Twins wrote their biggest smash, “Hold Me Now,” the trio knew it would be a hit, which is unusual.
“We were certain it would be a smash,” Bailey says. “I hear about how many bands say, ‘I never thought this would become a hit or we were going to leave it off the album.’ That wasn’t so for us. We knew ‘Hold Me Now’ would take off.”
10 . Each of the bands on “The Life Tour” intends to continue on for years.
“Why stop now,” Bailey says.
Who: The Life Tour, which features Boy George and Culture Club, the B-52s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17
Where: Koka Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway
Tickets: $45 and up
More info: 919-462-2025; boothamphitheatre.com.