Live Review: Bananarama, Tiffany, Amber

25 February 2019 | 3:31 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"There's rapt smiles on dials everywhere you look because Bananarama live equals good, clean fun."

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The joint is packed and jumping even before Amber hits the stage at 8pm. She opens with This Is Your Night, no backing band just vintage backing tape, before pointing out this song was released 23 years ago. Amber boasts impressive microphone technique, but it just sounds shit with no live instrumentation. The Stars On 54 track she sings on, If You Could Read My Mind (made famous through the song's use in the movie 54), sounds way better due to the entire audience joining in/taking over the singing and nearly totally drowning out the backing tape. Amber tells us her closer Sexual (Li Da Di) was written about “the sexual feelings of a lady”. It's all a bit karaoke. 

There's not even time to buy a drink before Tiffany hits the stage, also rolling solo. Telling us it’s taken her 30 years to get here, Tiffany opens with a new song called Beautiful (not to be mistaken for Could’ve Been (" beautiful"), which comes later). Tiffany performs the majority of her short set from the photography pit, engaging within the front rows, leaving the stage completely empty except for the instruments that are set up waiting for Bananarama's backing band. She sure can sing and busts out some ancient chorey – demonstrating she's still got the moves – during epic singalong moment I Think We're Alone Now, which takes us back to sneaky pashes in shopping centre car parks and reminds us of the accompanying music video featuring live footage of Tiffany performing in shopping malls to echo her early promotional campaigns.

Bananarama are off and racing with I Heard A Rumour sounding lively thanks to a four-piece backing band. It's a case of two out three ain't bad with Bananarama touring sans Siobhan Fahey these days, and the duo's synchronised dance moves are graceful and spellbinding, referencing their backing vocalist beginnings – even if some of the combinations look like a flight attendant's pre-flight safety demonstration. Keren Woodward's "Why does wrong feel so right?” vocal interlude during Move In My Direction is so craptacularly cheesy!

Unfortunately it's impossible to hear their banter over the crowd, but it's just so goddamn pleasurable singing, “And don’t it make you feel good," in the presence of two-thirds of Bananarama – Shy Boy is a "shoop shoop" masterpiece. Both Woodward and Sara Dallin look so classy up there and we baulk after fact-checking their ages on Wikipedia – 57! WTF!?

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Some of their songs also stand up incredibly well – particularly I Can't Help It and Cruel Summer – and could potentially be massive hits (again) if given a remix treatment. We're all waiting for Robert De Niro's Waiting..., which certainly doesn't disappoint thanks to multi-layered backing vocals (Fahey's, maybe?) on a backing track. What jubilant melodies I Want You Back has! And how instantly all those lyrics come flooding back. Love In The First Degree is unbridled joy. Then enter Venus. We can also dance along with this one and singing the lyrics en masse is good for the soul (especially when we remember how naughty we felt replacing "Venus" with "penis" and "desire" with "vagina" within lyrics every time we sang this song as teenagers). 

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye may be a bizarro choice of encore song, but there's rapt smiles on dials everywhere you look because Bananarama live equals good, clean fun.