Boney M. ft. Liz Mitchell / Morgan James

Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, December 8

Photo: Sharon Steele

BY Leslie Ken ChuPublished Dec 9, 2019

Vancouver's disco lovers flocked to the sold-out Vogue Theatre on Sunday for Boney M.'s "Holiday Favourites & Classic Hits," featuring Liz Mitchell, the chart-topping Euro-Caribbean group's original lead singer.

Before Boney M. raised the temperature inside the Vogue, New York singer Morgan James kept things cool with an intimate set of folky soul and R&B. She and her husband, guitarist Doug Wamble, mixed originals including "Making Up For Lost Love" and "All I Ever Gave You," the latter a preview of her upcoming album, Memphis Magnetic, due in February.

But it was James and Wamble's covers that got the most love: Elvis's "Blue Christmas," Joni Mitchell's "River," and especially Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and Prince's "Call My Name," which the Purple One gave his blessing for her to record.

Unlike James, Boney M. underdelivered on holiday favourites, but no one was there to hear Boney M. perform those anyway. They craved disco classics, and disco classics they mostly got. From opening number "Sunny" on, fans hooted and whooped endlessly. After the next song, "Daddy Cool," they never left their feet again. The audience gave so much, Mitchell decided against doing a slow song and kept the energy going with the heavily Caribbean combo of "Hooray! Hooray! It's a Holi-Holiday" and "Brown Girl in the Ring."

With five backup singers, who included Mitchell's nieces and one of her daughters, and an ensemble that included a drummer, percussionist, trombonist, bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and saxophonist, Boney M. sounded full and lively.

As if the stage wasn't full enough, Mitchell welcomed fans into the spotlight throughout the night. They first rushed the stage during "Rasputin." A pair of sisters got to personally tell Mitchell how much her music meant to them, while they and the singer embraced each other; one of the sisters later shared a duet with Mitchell on the mostly a cappella "When a Child Is Born."

The night wasn't only special for Boney M. fans, it was special for Mitchell, too. "I just want you to know I'm Vancouver too! I have blood in this country!" By her invitation, one by one, well over a dozen of her family members began dancing their way onstage from the front row, including one of Mitchell's bridesmaids from 40 years ago. Together, the whole Mitchell family sang a song of union, "Rivers of Babylon."

Only after this public reunion and running through eight of Boney M.'s most beloved hits did they throw in a few Christmas classics. First was a soulful rendition of "Little Drummer Boy," then Boney M.'s Europop take on "Mary's Boy Angel," and "Feliz Navidad," the only one of the three that garnered a massive sing-along.

Boney M.'s set fell on the short side. Mitchell thought so, too. "Next time, tell the promoter to give me more time," she urged fans as the band neared its one-hour limit. But Boney M. squeezed in another 20 minutes, finishing with one last disco barnburner, "Gotta Go Home." As the band played on, Mitchell continued taking photos with fans onstage before she and her family train chugged to the back.

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