Bananarama, Tiffany and Amber walk into a bar. It’s not 1989, even if it may feel that way. These artists know that girls just wanna have fun and they delivered joyous sets filled with nostalgic pop music. The Enmore Theatre could have been the setting for fluro outfits, large perms and shoulder pads, but these fashion faux-pas were forgotten and replaced by some joyous pop music.
Amber opened the proceedings and was accompanied by a single DJ. This set-up saw the popping disco of “If You Could Read My Mind” seem less Studio 54 and a lot more Oxford Street nightclub. It was fun and there certainly were people who were up for it when she launched into the smoking hot, “Sexual (Li Da Di).”
Tiffany followed and told us that she’d been trying to get here for 30 years. She played cuts from her new album, Pieces of Me, with her band. The result were some rocking numbers that shared more in common with No Doubt than the pretty in pink exuberance of “I Think We’re Alone Now.” The audience seemed to find these new tracks pleasing enough, but there was no denying that we were really only there to hear her classic hit single.
When people think of Bananarama they might imagine a group that came in threes, just like the Musketeers and The Stooges. But the 2019 version of this band is a duo featuring founding members: Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward (this is due to the departures of Siobhan Fahey and Jacquie O’Sullivan). Dallin and Woodward are both 57 years old but they are so energetic they seem much younger. The pair share a wonderful chemistry and are still great friends who crack a few jokes. They genuinely seemed to enjoy playing their fun songs and this mood was infectious.
The duo walked on-stage in such a quiet and unassuming, English way that it was almost like they weren’t famous rock stars. This mood changed once they launched into the syncopated dancing of “I Heard A Rumour.” It was a delight but “Love, Truth & Honesty” was a cut that was full of big Motown-inspired bombast. These lovely ladies like to wear their influences on their sleeves, especially when they played a nice, soul cover of “Really Saying Something.”
The pair plugged their forthcoming album and its cut “Dance Music” was all modern sounds and synth beats. This meant it wasn’t too far off a modern New Order song. The audience enjoyed this opportunity for some toe-tapping and this reached fever pitch during hits like “I Want You Back” and “Love In The First Degree.” Call me guilty, but I was an absolute sucker for the latter, just as little Natalie was as a child during the eighties.
“Robert De Niro’s Waiting” was so glittery and good it was like Christmas had come in February. It was a real contrast to “Cruel Summer” and bidding farewells to wistful seasons. The closer was a cover of Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” a song most people would be familiar with thanks to The Simpsons. You could also say that people know “Venus” due to advertising, but this crowd would have agreed that Bananarama did it best; perhaps even better than the original by Shocking Blue.
The band were a tight and efficient one. The show wasn’t very long and this meant the group didn’t overstay their welcome. They had played for long enough that most people would have heard many of the songs that they had really wanted to hear. The rendering was a tad standard at times insofar as there were no frills like videos, backing dancers or costume changes. But this meant that the hits could stand on their own two feet and be adored. Bananarama didn’t call their album “Wow!” for nothing.
Bananarama had shaken and shimmied their way to some fine pop music. It was sunny and nostalgic as people remembered and laughed their way through those catchy, retro hits. In sum, after such a satisfying selection of energetic, party-stompers this crowd had lived and loved all of this… in both truth and honesty.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Bananarama’s Sydney Set List
1. I Heard A Rumour
2. Move In My Direction
3. Love, Truth & Honesty
4. Really Saying Something
5. Dance Music
6. Look On the Floor (Hypnotic Tango)
7. I Can’t Help It
8. Nathan Jones
9. Cruel Summer
10. Robert De Niro’s Waiting
11. I Want You Back
12. Love In The First Degree
14. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
Bananarama, Tiffany & Amber play Brisbane and the Gold Coast. For more information and tickets please visit HERE