Music review: Bananarama, Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

Bananarama (from left): Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey
Bananarama (from left): Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey
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Face glitter and inflatable bananas mixed as two generations of girl bands and their fans converged in lower Finnieston. Over in the Hydro, Little Mix mounted their maximalist pop extravaganza but there was a more tempered excitement rippling through the Armadillo at the return of a girl group from simpler pop times.

Longtime Bananarama members Keren Woodward and Sarah Dallin have succeeded in getting the original girl gang back together, securing the return of their fellow founding member Siobhan Fahey after almost 30 years for their first – and possibly only – tour as a trio.

Bananarama, Glasgow Clyde Auditorium ***

Their opening cover of The Supremes’ Nathan Jones and their freewheeling version of The Velvelettes’ Really Saying Something staked their place in the lineage of classic girl groups but Bananarama were initially far less manicured than the carefully curated ensembles of the 1960s, with their gang sensibility accentuated by their unison singing (no lead vocalist here), dressed-down image and only partial commitment to choreography.

Those earlier come-as-you-are days were represented in their 90-minute set by the likes of Robert De Niro’s Waiting, performed against a bright backdrop of 1980s geometric graphics, the girl group handjive medley of Shy Boy/Boy Trouble, their debut non-hit Aie A Mwana, socio-political number Don’t Call That Justice and the much loved kitchen sink melodrama of Cruel Summer.

But there was arguably even greater affection and enthusiasm for the knowingly cheesy, shrill but indelibly catchy Stock Aitken Waterman-

produced run of hits including I Heard A Rumour, I Want You Back and their high camp hi-energy version of Shocking Blue’s Venus which lifted the fairly perfunctory proceedings in the latter moments of the show.

Bananarama have never been all-action performers and a few more bells and whistles could have boosted the plain stagecraft. Fahey’s return to the ranks may have been enough to sell this reunion to the masses.

But ironically the bandmates were never more connected than when they honoured Fahey’s post-Bananarama career with a version of Shakespears Sister’s Stay which injected some welcome drama and dynamism to the set and allowed the trio to come together in a lovely show of sisterhood.

This was the emotional high point of an undemanding, enjoyable show, but the musical highlight was their wonderful sassy percussive encore of It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It) when their jive truly did swing.