Rann Berry – here’s a message in a bottle. You shook me, and pretty much the entire audience, all night long. Well done. Let’s dance.
As I was driving to Kelowna Community Theatre on the last night of June, my mind kept zeroing in on one bewildering point. This was one tough gig. Who booked this concert on the eve of Canada’s 150th Birthday, literally 4.5 hours before the entire country started putting on its Canada Day game face? A lot of Kelowna-ites with show tickets might have been thinking should I stay or should I go?
The concert was Rann Berry’s Time Machine – Back to the ‘80s. That’s the songs of the ‘80s, when MTV and music videos ruled the entertainment world. The musicians were a six-piece band skillfully recreating the hits of in vogue artists such as Prince, David Bowie, The Police, U2, The Cars, AC/DC, Duran Duran, Wang Chung, and more.
The old barn was about three-quarters full when Rann the Mann and his crew took the stage. Berry, the lead vocalist and front man, looked like a combination of The Terminator and Bono – dark sunglasses, long black leather jacket, black jeans, and boots. The first song, appropriately enough, was Let’s Go by The Cars.
Sticking with the birthday party analogy, the first half of the show was mixing the batter and putting the cake in the oven. By the third song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears), a few women had crept up near the stage and began dancing in the aisles. This party was starting to heat up like a convection oven.
More dancers appeared in pockets of the theatre during Who Can It Be Now (Men at Work), Don’t You Forget About Me (Simple Minds), and Hungry Like The Wolf (Duran Duran). I was impressed when Rann hit some extremely high notes while belting out Take On Me (A-ha).
After intermission, it was all about icing the cake, putting candles on it, and everyone singing their brains out. Rann came out in a purple jacket and led off with Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, and 1999 (Prince). Then the gang transitioned into three David Bowie favorites – Let’s Dance, China Girl, and Under Pressure. By this time, the atmosphere was total party central with rows full of dancers and rump-shakers.
Everyone was on their feet by the time Should I Stay Or Should I Go (The Clash) and You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC) were sung with electric enthusiasm. Then came the encore, where Rann and the boys finished with Billie Jean (Michael Jackson) and U2’s Pride (In The Name Of Love). It was a powerful finish to a powerful night of new-wave nostalgia.
Big Finish – In the equality era, the Time Machine needs, in my opinion, to mix in a few girl groups into the show such as the Bangles, Go Go’s, even Janet Jackson or Madonna. Then again, it’s hard to find a spot for everyone in a 22-song playlist. We’ll see Rann Berry again on August 26th for his Soul of Motown Revue.