BOY GEORGE & CULTURE CLUB
The Letting It Go Show
Featuring Howard Jones & Berlin
July 25, 2023
Photos & Review by Dan Wenc
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Despite the heavy rains leading up to the show, it was still a great night of music of 80s re-visited. A night that was a momentary escape from reality with a rewind to simpler times to spend a few hours with three musical pioneers of the early 80s MTV era, Berlin, Howard Jones and Boy George & Culture Club. Three veteran musical acts that have maintained the longevity in their music to span forty-plus years, still drawing the crowds, sounding amazing and most importantly, keeping those songs playing we all enjoy so much. The combination of the bands on The Letting It Go Tour, was a perfect lineup for any 80s fan, or any new fan that is willing to experience the magic of the music.
As the lights went down a montage of early Berlin videoclips played on the screens on each side of the stage. Berlin started off the night with hits “Masquerade,” “No More Words” and “The Metro.” Right out of the gate, Terri Nunn and the rest of the band had the audience fired up with all these familiar hits. Nunn’s voice was stellar and the band accompaniment kept the crowd involved and singing along through the eight song setlist, which also included “Animal” and “On My Knees.” Then it was time for a trip back in time to 1986, with the chart topping single that dominated the airwaves, from the Top Gun movie soundtrack, “Take My Breath Away.”
Nunn left the stage and walked up through the isles as she sang, sounding as beautifully now as she did back then. Nunn traversed the isles on each side of the venue. Fans were visibly appreciative of this intimate music moment as Nunn walk by them, bringing a closer connection to the music during this powerful and iconic song.
Next up would be something different, something that I could really appreciate. Berlin performed a cover of “She Sells Sanctuary” from The Cult. I am a big fan of The Cult and that it is a great song. There was one more to close out the Berlin set, “Sex (I”m a…), keeping musical energy rolling with a great performance with Nunn and John Crawford duet.
Berlin is Terri Nunn (vocals), John Crawford (vocals, guitar, bass), David Diamond (guitar), Carlton Bost (guitar), Dave Schulz (keyboard) and Ric “Rocc” Roccapriore. It was a homecoming show for Rocc, as he is a native to the New England area, hailing from Meriden, Connecticut and attended Berkley College of Music in Boston. Berlin put on a fabulous performance that perfectly celebrated their forty-five years of music. Berlin blew me away, much more than I had anticipated.
BERLIN photo gallery
Next up was another 80s pop hit sensation, Howard Jones, with his synth-pop music sound that was a staple of the 80s radio and MTV era. Jones came right out on stage with a vibrant greeting to the audience, with a “Hello Mansfield… Hello Boston… and Hello all of Massachusetts”, and went right into his 1984 hit “Like To Get to Know You Well.”
Following that Jones took a seat at his keyboard, and began with another familiar 80s classic, “Everlasting Love.” The conclusion of this song was met with swells of cheers from the audience. Jones sounded as great as he did on his studio albums, all the while he looked like he was having as much fun as the crowd was.
Introducing the next song, Jones said that this was his first single that was released forty years ago, “New Song.” Jones expressed his appreciation for everyone for sticking by him through all the years. Following up with “Life In One Day” which kept the crowd on their feet. Jones performed a cover of Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” before heading back into the Jones collection. The night continued on with “No One Is to Blame,” “Celebrate It Together” and “What Is Love”, which was met with a standing ovation. At age 68, Jones commanded the stage during his entire set, leading the audience through journey of his timeless music. But there was time for one more song to close out his set with, “Things Can Only Get Better.”
Another hour and a half worth of music remained, from the legendary Boy George and Culture Club. We were about to experience a sixteen-song set led by one of the most notable figures of the early MTV era.
HOWARD JONES photo gallery
The lights went down and there was a curtain over the stage, the music came on, the band was in place, the curtain dropped and Boy George made his entry from the back of the stage to a welcoming Massachusetts crowd. The set kicked off with a song that could describe the next portion of the evening, “Next Thing Will Be Amazing.” Boy George was backed by a stage full of musicians and background vocalists. Other original members of Culture Club were Roy Hay (guitar) and Mikey Craig (bass).
I was a child of the early MTV era; it is was got me fascinated into the world of music, from then to now. If you were to ask me what I first remember about being an MTV kid in the early 80s, my answer would be Culture Club videos for “Karma Chameleon” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” Those were some of the first music videos that I remember. So after forty years of seeing the videos and hearing these songs, I can finally say that I saw this group perform all these songs live after all these years.
The set continued with “It’s a Miracle,” “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Melodrama,” and “Everything I Own” (Bread cover).
Boy George kept the night going, vocals were great, along with the rest of the band. Culture Club maintained a different image and sound than the rest of the bands of the 80s era; this uniqueness about them made them likable for any music fan of then and today.
Boy George spoke before leading into the next song, talking about how the world has become too much with internet and social media in today world, and encouraging the crowd to “Let It Go,” after all this was The Letting It Go Tour. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” followed, starting off with a slow and mellow intro, before breaking out and keeping the crowd on their feet, singing along through the whole set. The backing singers, saxophone player and other musicians made the stage vibrant and alive. There was something going on in every corner of the stage.
Among the rest of the set was, “Eyeliner Voodoo,” “Thats the Way (I’m Only Trying to Help You),” “Angel of Mercy,” “Church of the Poison Mind / I’m Your Man,” “Time (Clock of the Heart)” and “Miss Me Blind” would close the main part of the night.
The band returned to the stage for a three song encore to perform a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Keeping the energy going with the 1983 chart topper “Karma Chameleon.” Concluding the evening with a cover of T. Rex “Get It On.”
The thing that makes a concert experience great, is when both the crowd and band shows up with the same energy and when the band looks like they are having fun on stage. All three acts exceeded my expectations. It was a musical ride through my 80s. We live in a fortunate time as music fans, where these bands are still out there touring. Get out there and see them while you can! The Letting It Go Show is at about the midway point of this tour. Get out and see this show in a city near you! This is a show that will have you leaving with a smile.
BOY GEORGE & CULTURE CLUB photo gallery
For more Boy George and Culture Club news and tour dates, visit: https://boygeorgeandcultureclub.net