It’s probably fair to say that when Boney M. ticket-holders headed to the Euro-Caribbean 70s disco group’s show on Sunday evening at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre, they were expecting a relatively tame, nostalgic evening of hits.
Well, they definitely got the hits …
They also got a packed hour of surprisingly rambunctious audience reactions, a truly energetic band, sweat-inducing dancing, and even some tears.
First off, soul and R&B New York singer Morgan James was a strange opening choice for Boney M. because of her stripped-down acoustic performance. But the audience soon got swept up in her powerful voice, original love songs, and covers of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” James is definitely an artist to watch out for, and she left the stage that evening with a room of new fans. Joni Mitchell’s “River” was a highlight, particularly because it’s so rare to hear that song covered so beautifully live.
Boney M.’s sold-out ‘Holiday Favourites & Classic Hits’ show featured original lead member Liz Mitchell. When the group opened with earworm “Sunny,” Mitchell’s call-and-response style of singing was disappointing. Off the bat, it should be mentioned that this show was not a vocal feat. But, it was an entertainment feat.
It soon became clear that it did not matter that there was only one original member, or that that member didn’t sing the way she used to … the crowd was loving every minute, and Mitchell was as well.
Quite simply, this show was F-U-N.
The Vogue was packed with fans young, middle-aged and old—proving that a fan isn’t characterized by when they were born, but rather their personal connection to the music. Boney M. is unique in that it’s solidified its legacy with dance and Christmas songs that get major air time every year, making it a favourite for any age.
Mitchell and her band, which included her own daughter, made their way through hit after hit with “Daddy Cool,” ”Ma Baker,” “Rasputin,” “Rivers of Babylon,” “Hooray! Hooray! Holi-Holiday” and “Brown Girl in the Ring.” Really, the only song missing from their hit list was 1978’s “Painter Man.”
Mitchell got a lot of love Sunday night. Love from the crowd, her family, and the many fans she invited onstage to sing and dance with her. A beautiful point in the evening came when Mitchell invited some of her family, who happen to live in Vancouver, onstage to sing “Rivers of Babylon.”
“I just want you to know I’m Vancouver too! I have blood in this country!” Mitchell said, beaming.
By that point, the glitter-clad Mitchell appeared surprised and truly swept up in the audience’s reaction to what was happening on stage. People were jumping, screaming and dancing. So it was no surprise when Mitchell got a bit emotional. Family that night included Mitchell’s bridesmaid from 40 years ago, who sang a bit of a solo during “Rivers of Babylon.”
It was pretty strange that the holiday show featured very few holiday songs. Fans got favourites “Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord,” “When a Child Is Born,” and “Feliz Navidad.” But many were expecting the entire 1981 Christmas album.
Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find disappointed concert-goers in the room as Boney M. ended the evening with yet another hit, “Gotta Go Home.” Hopefully next time Mitchell comes through Vancouver, Boney M. gets more than an hour-long time slot.