The OC Fair has packed its bags and left for the summer, so one would think the Summer Concert Series was also done. No so fast! Summer is alive and well at Pac Amp and it just brought us Boy George & Culture Club!
I am not sure if I am supposed to call him “Boy,” “George,” or “Boy George?” Either way, his fans turned out on August 18th to see him and his mates return to Costa Mesa. This time, Boy brought along another ‘80s icon, Terri Nunn and Berlin.
So picture this: It was late afternoon at the OC Fairgrounds as I rolled up to the box office to get my passes. I looked around and noticed people were wearing a lot of Day-Glo, and I had never seen such a large number of MTV t-shirts in one place, plus Boy George hats with dreads were everywhere. I thought to myself, “Holy crap!” There are a ton of ‘80s fans here and they all love these two bands.
Costa Mesa, California
August 18, 2022
While at my seat, I saw countless concertgoers taking photos of themselves in the Boy George or Madonna outfits with the stage bearing the Berlin drum kit in the background. I had a very nice and insightful conversation with a couple sitting next to me. They were excited to see both bands, and as the ‘80s themed music was blaring over the sound system, she said something to the effect of “It’s remarkable that everyone in the place have shared the same experiences in life through these bands. It’s wonderful how music can bring us all together, and help us through life.” It was a very poignant and astute observation.
Then, the lights dimmed, the overhead music stopped, and out came Berlin. The subtle crowd erupted in cheers as Nunn took the stage and belted out those immortal words, “The painted faces on the street, caricatures of long ago, oh they were young and oh so sweet, down beyond the boulevard, knock on doors and empty halls, and still sometimes remember the masquerade’s forever.” The crowd went off and sang along to “Masquerade.”
The band sounded fresh, and Nunn looked and sounded as good as ever.
In an interview with Nunn not long ago, she told me she loves the feeling of walking on stage and the energy from the crowd: “It’s an energy that is indescribable.” As she went into her second chorus, I saw that infectious smile of hers and knew she was amped for this one.
Since opening bands don’t have the entire night to show off their catalog, bands like Berlin give you the hit parade. Nunn and the guys went right into “No More Words” and “The Metro” before going into more recent tunes like “Touch,” “Animal,” and “She Sells Sanctuary.” Nunn also gave a heart-warming tribute to Olivia Newton-John before walking out into the crowd to serenade them to “Take My Breath Away.”
That is always a show stopping moment. No matter where I see Berlin perform, the crowd gets so immersed and it is emotional for all. As everyone got themselves back together, since we are in the OC, the crowd screamed their heads off to “Sex.” Well, the Disney version.
What’s amazed me this entire summer is how quickly the Pac Amp staff has managed to switch the stage from one band to another, and tonight was no different. Very impressive stuff!
With the sun now a distant memory, the house lights took full effect. But, when it was time for the main event, the lights dimmed. The band took the stage with the back-up singers and the crowd cheered when Boy George emerged and started belting out “Next Thing Will Be Amazing.”
Immediately George was taken aback by the crowd and so thankful for the warm reception from the Boy George Fan Club that appeared to be everywhere. He was genuinely grateful to the fans for the reception and like Bruce Springsteen; George was animated – more than I thought he would be – and told great stories between songs.
Then the hit parade blasted off immediately to Culture Club with “It’s a Miracle” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.” The set was eclectic and the crowd dug it. With his volcanic colored jacket and an incredible light show with kick-ass back-up singers, it was a party atmosphere, everyone was on their feet. George also took time to acknowledge his long-time bandmates, Mikey Craig (bass) and Roy Hay (guitar).
Boy then went into “Move Away” and “Hold Back” before he went into a song that stumped everyone at first. It was something he did post Culture Club hay-day; an almost reggae style cover of Bread’s (David Gates) “Everything I Own.” This is one of my personal favorites, and George did it justice. Judging from the reaction of the crowd, they were awestruck by this perfectly executed cover.
In the end, the big guns came out and the crowd was back to losing their minds to their era-(MTV)defining songs “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me,” “Church of the Poison Mind/I’m Your Man,” “Miss Me Blind,” and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Then it was the showstopper moment; it was time for “Karma Chameleon,” and wow, wow, wow… Pac Amp turned into one big bowl of fiesta and sing-along. It really was a magical night and everyone was propelled back into 1980-something. As the lights finally came up, it was evident everyone shared in this very memorable musical experience.