Terri Nunn led a revamped Berlin into Philadelphia’s World Café Live Monday night, performing an energetic 17-song set that proved the band is no mere nostalgia act. The July 14 show (which took place while a lightning storm rolled through the area) was a make-up date, as the original May 1 show was postponed due to a flood and power outage.
While Mother Nature churned up the weather outside, Nunn and the rest of Berlin – keyboardist and backing vocalist Dave Schulz, guitarist and backing vocalist Carlton Bost, and drummer Chris Olivas – created their own storm on the World Café Live stage.
Berlin originally rose to fame in the early ‘80s as much due to MTV video exposure as to radio airplay. That’s right kids, back then MTV played music videos 24/7. So it was fitting that the band was introduced by a montage of clips from music videos that spanned from its first, "Sex (I'm A...)" to the title track from its most recent album, “Animal.”
“I'm re-inspired by this album,” Nunn told me in an interview last April. “The creation of it and sharing it has reinvigorated me and given me energy to do a lot more.”
Nunn looked and sounded inspired as she took to the stage to the familiar keyboard lines of “Masquerade,” a track from Berlin’s 1982 breakthrough EP, “Pleasure Victim.” It was followed by the band’s first Top-40 hit, “No More Words” from its 1984 album “Love Life.” Scenes from the song’s original Bonnie and Clyde inspired video played on the big screen while the three-piece band did a great job of recreating Berlin’s ‘80s new wave sound live.
The audience was an interesting mix of original fans in their 40s and 50s (some of whom brought their children along to the all-ages show), and younger fans who weren’t even born when the original Berlin disbanded in 1987. Even without Nunn’s frequent encouragement, all happily sang along to Berlin classics like “The Metro,” “Touch,” “Like Flames,” “Pictures of You” (while family photos of the entire band flashed on the big screen), and “Will I Ever Understand You.”
But Berlin was not content to rest on its history. Four songs into the set, the group tore into the powerful EDM track “Animal,” the first of seven songs the band would perform from its current album of the same name. For “Nice to Meet You,” Nunn made the first of several trips from the stage onto the dance floor to mingle with the crowd, much to their delight.
In great shape and still sporting her trademark platinum blonde with black roots hairstyle, Nunn still exudes plenty of sex appeal at age 53. Even more important, she sounds fantastic. She quit smoking twenty years ago and says that since then, her range has nearly doubled. Nunn proved that several times Monday night.
A beautiful piano version of the ballad “Pleasure Victim” featured Nunn backed only by keyboardist Dave Schultz. She later struck an emotional note performing two songs about her parents – “Blame It on the World” for her father, and “Mom” for her mother.
The hit "Sex (I'm A...)" was delivered in a fiery version to close out the main set. Of course, the night would not be complete without a performance of Berlin’s biggest hit, 1986’s “Take My Breath Away.” Nunn made her way among the crowd one final time as she delivered a lovely and sincere version of the band’s number-one single.
A torrid cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love” ended the show on an upbeat note and sent many fans happily on their way. Fortunately, by the time the storm inside World Café Live ended, the thunder and lightning outside had subsided as well.