Nestled within the historic Chastain Park in northern Atlanta, the Cadence Bank Amphitheatre played host to the latest stop on the Letting It Go Show 2023 Tour on a steamy summer night in the South. Headlined by music icons Boy George and Culture Club, this 25-city tour also features special guests Howard Jones and BERLIN. With a posted capacity of nearly 7,000, this summer-months-only outdoor facility was opened back in 1944 and has been decreed as “Atlanta’s Oldest Outdoor Music Venue.” Given the weather Tuesday, you could have actually decreed it Atlanta’s sweatiest outdoor music venue instead.
With the late afternoon sun still blazing and the temperatures hovering in the 90s, BERLIN took to the stage at 7pm. Anchored by the lovely Terri Nunn on vocals, BERLIN kicked off the evening with the tune “Masquerade” from their second studio album, Pleasure Victim (1992). Dressed in a flowing white outfit, Nunn pranced and danced back and forth across the length of the stage, smiling and engaging with the early crowd, including joking about all the great restaurants she sampled around Atlanta. Surrounded by John Crawford, David Diamond, Carlton Bost, Dave Schulz, and Ric Roccapriore, Nunn lead the band through a 35-minute set of recognizable songs that spanned the band’s 40-plus year history.
As an avid radio listener in the mid-80s, BERLIN was a constant staple, with hits such as “No More Words,” “The Metro,” and “Sex (I’m a…)” in heavy rotation. However, as a more casual BERLIN fan, my goal was to finally just hear Nunn perform “Take My Breath Away,” the iconic, generational-defining track from the 1986 film Top Gun. BERLIN did not disappoint, with 62-year-old Nunn delivering a vocal performance that immediately transported the audience back to that memorable era. Unexpectedly, BERLIN followed “Take My Breath Away” with an excellent cover of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary,” which I found to be a enjoyable twist to their setlist. BERLIN was a bucket list band I can now officially cross off my list.
2.) No More Words
3.) The Metro
5.) Take My Breath Away
6.) She Sells Sanctuary (The Cult cover)
7.) Sex (I’m a…)
With the sun finally setting to provide some relief from the heat, legendary British singer/songwriter Howard Jones took over the stage from BERLIN at 8pm, donning a multi-colored jacket that matched his hair. Jones started off his evening with “Like to Get to Know You Well,” a single that peaked at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart back in the mid-80s. If I am being honest, of the three acts on this tour, Jones was the one I was most looking forward to. Out on the road celebrating his 40 year career, the 68-year-old Jones sounded as good as I had hoped, delivering sing-along performances of his well-known hits like “Things Can Only Get Better,” “New Song,” and “What is Love?”
While I enjoyed the band’s nod to fellow ’80s act Kajagoogoo with a cover performance of their hit “Too Shy” mid-set (thanks to the Nick Beggs affiliation), what followed was an inspirational delivery of Jones’ biggest hit, “No One Is to Blame.” Like the near-capacity crowd at this point, I found myself singing along at the top of my lungs to a tune that was positively seared into my childhood musical memories. Put simply, with songs that resonate across generations, Jones is an artistic treasure not to be missed.
Howard Jones (band)
1.) Like to Get to Know You Well
2.) Everlasting Love
3.) New Song
4.) Life in One Day
5.) Too Shy (Kajagoogoo cover)
6.) No One Is to Blame
7.) Celebrate It Together
8.) What Is Love?
9.) Things Can Only Get Better
Following the equipment turn and set prep, the curtain dropped at 9:15pm to reveal Boy George standing at the top of a stair riser in the center with the rest of the Culture Club and their touring musicians strategically positioned across the stage. Dressed in a character-laden yellow hat and black jacket with big yellow polka dots, Boy George danced and smiled his way into the band’s first song of the night, “Next Thing Will Be Amazing.”
Joking that the audience “would just need to deal with the fact” that the band would be performing some newer songs throughout the night, the ensemble touring musicians supporting original Culture Club members Mikey Craig (bass) and Roy Hay (guitar) still answered the call with an ’80s-style sing-along party anchored in classic hits like “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Church of the Poison Mind,” and “Time.”
Prior to performing Culture Club’s international hit “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” Boy George reflected that he had just read on the internet some comments from artists complaining about too many audience members filming shows instead of watching them. He said he had the opposite opinion, and encouraged everyone to film, post and share this song that has had deep meaning and struggle for him over the years. Culture Club’s initial set concluded with the top 10 hit “Miss Me Blind” from their 1984 album, Colour By Numbers.
With a threat of impending thunderstorms in the area, the band quickly returned to the stage for a three-song encore, which began with a cover performance of “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones. Boy George and Culture Club then launched into arguably their most popular song, the iconic “Karma Chameleon,” which brought the fans to their feet with cellphones into the air. The band put a final bow on the fun-filled evening with a nod to the band T.Rex by performing their ’70s hit “Get It On.”
This traveling feel-good party of The Letting It Go Show 2023 Tour continues on through the end of August, eventually wrapping up at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, California, on Sunday, August 20th. If you are a child of the ’80s like I am, this is definitely a summer tour worth taking in.
1.) Next Thing Will Be Amazing
2.) It’s a Miracle
3.) I’ll Tumble 4 Ya
5.) Everything I Own (Bread cover)
6.) Let It Go
7.) Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
8.) Hold Back the Feeling
9.) Angel of Mercy
10.) Church of the Poison Mind / I’m Your Man
11.) Time (Clock of the Heart)
12.) Miss Me Blind
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early ’90s, when he sold Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and then purchased a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.