At times, it was hard to figure out whether Berlin were an average synth pop band trying to carve out their own niche or just a mediocre rock band jumping on the new wave bandwagon. Sure, they had some good singles and radio hits, but as an album band, they left a lot to be desired. Terri Nunn was beautiful and sexy, but it seemed like Berlin wanted to be more than just a commercial band with a hot vocalist: they seemed to be striving for greatness but settled for "that'll do." Unfortunately, they never had a chance to really prove themselves, breaking up after their commercially disappointing Count Three & Pray album, released in 1986. Nunn has kept the Berlin name alive over the years, touring with a different group of musicians and playing all the hits while releasing the occasional studio or live album. With a recorded output that seems to dwindle in quality with every release, one might hope that All the Way In would deviate from the standard "live hits" collection and offer up something really special. Sadly, that's not entirely the case. All the Way In was recorded live at The House of Blues in Anaheim, CA. The HOB is located very near the heart of the OC music scene, where Berlin started more than two decades ago. This homecoming show promised much but delivered very little.
Backed by three musicians who look like Nine Inch Nails refugees, Nunn is still as beautiful and sexy as ever, and her voice sounds great, but there doesn't seem to be much heart and soul, at least on the CD. Nunn pulls out all the live rock clichés she can muster while performing the big hits, dulling their overall impact. She then throws in covers of "Somebody to Love" (Jefferson Airplane) and "Ordinary World" (Duran Duran) where lesser-known Berlin tunes would have been more appropriate for the diehards. The CD is not a total disaster, but is hardly necessary unless you are a hardcore fan. The DVD is far more interesting and entertaining than the CD, especially Nunn's shoulder-riding journey through the audience during "Take My Breath Away." Visually, she seems to be having more fun than the CD lets on. Nunn looks like she enjoys the adulation but is a bit bored by performing songs like "No More Words" and "The Metro" for quite possibly the millionth time. At times, Nunn and the band do kick things up a bit, but it's hard to get past the notion that the three guys in the band are just hired hands and exist as Berlin in name only. There are tracks on the CD that are not included on the DVD (and vice versa), but even though the DVD has a shorter running time, it's a far more enjoyable experience. So, get this for the DVD and do what you will with the CD. ~ Steve Schnee