Boy George & Culture Club are touring across the USA in The Letting It Go Show Tour, and they have recruited fellow ’80s chart toppers Berlin and Howard Jones to open. The result is a big show full of incredible music and a guaranteed good time for all.
Last week, Culture Club tour made a stop at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Fla., and the three new wave bands kept the packed amphitheater dancing and singing their hearts out all night long.
At Daily’s Place on July 16, the vibrant and energetic tone was set by Boy George, who was all smiles as he served as a master of ceremonies for an evening of both thoughtful tunes and dance grooves. George was really quite gregarious and luxuriated in the applause of the audience. Early in the set, he greeted a few fans, even kneeling down on stage right to apparently collect a gift and shake some hands!
Boy George’s bluesy voice was in fine shape. He opened the show with the cheery and appropriate “Next Thing Will Be Amazing,” which was great for setting the tone for the night. That new song was one of five performed in Jacksonville, Fla., that apparently are set for a new album in the near future. Culture Club sprinkled those songs throughout the set, placing “Melodrama” somewhat near the beginning and “Hold Back the Feeling” in the middle.
In the first third of the show, Culture Club performed “Let It Go,” the new song that lends its name to the tour. The Culture Club band came together really well for the sweet and sad song. Although a slow song for sure, the tune showcased Mikey Craig’s delightful bass.
The new stuff was great and easy to pick up, but fear not if you’re going for the hits because there are plenty of those too! Straightaway, Boy George and Culture Club performed “It’s a Miracle” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” as the second and third songs in the set, spotlighting two of the greatest albums of the ’80s — Colour by Numbers (1983) and Kissing to Be Clever (1982), respectively.
Watch Boy George & Culture Club perform “It’s a Miracle” live for BBC Radio 2 on YouTube:
Another highlight of the show was the band’s medley of Colour by Numbers’ “Church of the Poison Mind” and “I’m Your Man” by Wham!, which appeared near the end of the main set. The medley was a tremendous showcase for the gifted backup singer Roxy Yarnold, who joined George at stage center to deliver a soaring vocal. Roxy was a wonderful complement to George, and she really gave life to the medley with a vocal truly inspired by the glory days of Motown.
I must also applaud the tireless Roy Hay, who keeps the Culture Club engine churning along with George and Mikey. The versatile instrumentalist dominated stage right, moving from guitar to keyboard and never staying in one place for too long. Roy’s moving keyboards were a highlight of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” another mid-set number, and every Culture Club number benefits his mastery of the guitar.
In introducing “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” George shared a recollection that he was reluctant to release the song as he felt it was too personal and potentially painful. But instead, he found it to be cathartic when people all over the world embrace the song and really understood what George was trying to say upon its release in 1982. George, I speak for all of us packing stadiums on this tour when I say, “We hear you!”
At Daily’s Place, Howard Jones opened the show with an extraordinarily bright and punchy set of signature tunes. His nine-song set began with “Like to Get to Know You Well” from the sophisticated debut album Human’s Lib (1984). Along the way, Howard and his band played the always popular “Everlasting Love” from Cross That Line (1989), the emotional “No One Is to Blame” from the terrific album Dream into Action (1985), and the hopeful “Things Can Only Get Better” from the same to close the show.
Watch the official music video for “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones on YouTube:
Howard also added a cover of “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo as a nod to his bassist, Nick Beggs, a member of that memorable ’80s band. Howard also was accompanied by musicians that you look forward to seeing in his show — players like the great synthesist Robbie Bronnimann, who imbues the performance with great electronic styling. Howard has a great personal magnetism, and he always delivers a great show with his strong and deep catalog of well-crafted and optimistic songs.
After Howard, California new wavers Berlin, led by frontwoman Terri Nunn, blew the audience away with songs from their incredibly smart and unforgettable catalog. At Daily’s Place, Berlin truly delivered, opening with “Masquerade” from Pleasure Victim (1982), and the band soon played the catchy and dance worthy “The Metro” soon afterward.
Watch the official music video for “The Metro” by Berlin on YouTube:
I’m a diehard fan of the Second British Invasion, which delivered Boy George and Howard Jones to my MTV screens in the ’80s but few American bands make me so happy as Berlin, who can frankly do no wrong. In recent years, band founder John Crawford has returned to the fold to play bass and sing, and so has guitarist David Diamond. The gents looked like they were having a very good time as they played their tunes on stage, and it was nothing short of ecstatic to witness them in action once again.
And it must be said that Terri was on fire. She was incredibly effervescent throughout the show, but she also captured the attention of the crowd with a killer red dress that was almost as much the talk of the show as the music!
In moving to close their show, Berlin covered “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult, during which Terri paraded through the audience to sing the last half. And they ended the set on the very adult “Sex (I’m a…),” which gave Mr. Crawford a welcome opportunity to camp it up with his repeating refrain of “I’m a man.” Everyone on stage and in the audience was truly made it a wonderful night.
Boy George & Culture Club bring their The Letting It Go Show to Jiffy Lube Live in the DC area on Friday, July 28, along with Howard Jones and Berlin. Don’t miss this show!
Here are some photos of Howard Jones opening Culture Club at Daily’s Place on July 16, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.
Here are some photos of Berlin opening Culture Club at Daily’s Place on July 16, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.
Here are some photos of Boy George & Culture Club performing at Daily’s Place on July 16, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.