MUSIC REVIEW: Bananarama @The Brighton Centre

Ladies, you’ve been gone too long! Flashing devil horns and baggy dungarees collided as the darlings of chaotic 80s pop, Bananarama, skidded into the Brighton Centre as part of their Original Line-Up Tour – the first, and possibly last, live tour featuring the three founding members!

Long-time twosome Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin have been victorious in convincing the delectable Siobhan Fahey to join them for a UK (and soon, US) tour of glitter, killer heels and tunes, from the humble Swahili beginnings of non-hit Aie A Mwana (not one for the hairbrush diva) to the steamy Cruel Summer, through to the sheer stilton of the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced hits – beefed up and less ‘tinny’ than the originals. Cheers Then, to the live band.

Show openers, their cover of The Supremes’ Nathan Jones and their freewheeling version of Really Saying Something, were suitably shambolic, but it was the undeniably cheesy (in a very, very good way) I Heard a Rumour, I Can’t Help It and I Want You Back – complete with dance moves last seen on a dancefloor near you circa 1987 – that transported us back to the time when hair was big but the hits were even bigger!

Whilst backing dancers would have added dynamism, must watch the uber-camp performance of Love in the First Degree from the BRIT Awards in 1988, Sara, Keren and Siobhan’s unbridged enthusiasm made this an epic disco party experience dripping with nostalgia – leavened with a backdrop of videos and outtakes from the ‘80s, side-wards glances (a Bananarama staple) and jovial, easy banter.

There were nods to post-Siobhan too – a chilling and dramatic rendition of the Shakespear’s Sister hit Stay saw Sara and Keren take on the mammoth task of Marcella Detroit’s quasi-operatic verses before Siobhan burst out all moon child for the sinister line, “You’d Better Hope and Pray…”. Shuv then returned the favour by insisting they perform Preacher Man, one of the Nanas post-Siobhan hits! It’s no match for Stay, but then what is?

The biting and busty Venus has surely never sounded so good, and the singalong Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye blew the roof off, before the enormous 1987 hit Love in the First Degree brought proceedings to a high-NRG end.

If you missed Bananarama this time around, then tickets are still available for their second show at the Brighton Centre on Friday, December 8.

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