Concert Review: BOY GEORGE & CULTURE CLUB / BERLIN (The Hollywood Bowl)

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by Lawrence Lucero on September 8, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-Los Angeles


On the clear summer Saturday night, August 27, at the Hollywood Bowl, with a comforting chill after a day of sweltering heat in the valley, it was nice to settle down for a program of music that takes us back to a time that was once considered both weird and wonderful.

Boy George and his Culture Club graciously hosted two legendary ladies of popular music and gave props to some of his influences who are no longer with us, in words and song.

BERLIN took to the stage first. Seeing the clips of their ultra-cool vintage videos, we knew we were in for a retro ride of an evening. Wearing a vampire-red voluminous sheer strapless dress with a black faux fur vest and oversized geometrical silver earrings, Terri Nunn made her entrance. The audience screamed and purple chaser lights danced rhythmically in the stage shell as the band went into “No More Words” Nunn was great! Her voice sounded strong and healthy.

In their next song “The Metro” the guitarist was athletic and sparkly in his purple sequined suit. I loved the siren-like sound effects and lighting. Drinking water all the while as she did between each song, a testimonial to keeping her voice in such good shape, she took a moment to recognize — it’s been forty-six years since the band formed and twenty-five years of being with her “man Paul.” Nunn brought to mind Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, and Pat Benatar, a few of the great female lead vocalists of that era. The Giorgio Moroder hit from the movie Top Gun, “Take My Breath Away,” began next, a capella, Nunn making full use of the passerelle surrounding the garden seating ultimately interacting with a little girl fan. The audience stood after this one. During a cover of the Cure’s “She Sells Sanctuary” Nunn went into the audience gleamingly appreciating the fans as she made her way through the terrace section. They finished their seven-song set with “Sex (I’m A…), a satisfying cap to a glittering performance.

After intermission, the lights dimmed as a synthesizer played slow opening chords to “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” leading into an overture with lots of hoopla and flashing lights. Boy George appeared in an oversize black denim coat with giant pink polka-dots and a red top hat singing “Sympathy with the Devil” finishing with a nod to Mick Jagger saying he’d like to be him when he “grows up.” He sounded great in “It’s a Miracle” generously sharing the stage with his lady vocalist. After a lively “I’ll Tumble For Ya’,” George introduced his talented backup singer he signed from the Voice, Vangelis Polydorou, and they traded vocals on the accusatory “Melodrama.”

The evening was full of “props” and acknowledgements including Little Richard, George Michael, David Bowie, and 60’s pop-star Lulu, who came out wearing black sunglasses, matching sequined pants and blazer. Curiously, her uncharacteristically husky singing channeled the artist she named as one of her own inspirations, Ray Charles, in the duet “The Man Who Sold the World” she shared with Boy George and her hit “To Sir with Love.” The band went on to perform more of their dance-evoking, crowd-pleasing hits, “Time,” “Miss You,” and “Church of the Poisoned Mind; finishing their celebratory setlist with “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” with Teri Nunn, and the always joyful “Karma Chameleon” with Lulu.

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