Accusations of a cheap, nostalgic cash-in have been avoided by Bananarama, the 1980s “girl group” whose work holds a special place in the hearts of erstwhile teenaged bedroom mirror-and-hairbrush singers across the UK, by the way they showed dignified endurance in not going away at all.
Bananarama, Edinburgh Castle ****
Yet, while Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward have persisted with the group, what brought them back to a venue of Edinburgh Castle’s scale was the temporary return of third founder member Siobhan Fahey, who left to find moderately more adult success with Shakespears Sister in 1988.
Together (and supported by Scots artists The Bluebells and Clare Grogan’s Altered Images), the full Bananarama are a big draw, and some may be surprised to hear they were an even greater live success.
Backed by a full band, the trio were buoyed with infectious energy, orchestrating choreographed dance moves among their fans as they delivered a barely 90-minute set which wisely focused purely on the classics.
The weird, Fun Boy Three-abetted funk of It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It) was here, as well as the glistening pop of archetypal Stock, Aitken and Waterman creations such as I Can’t Help It, Venus and the signature hit Love in the First Degree, by way of the equally well-preserved Robert De Niro’s Waiting.
Endearingly, they fulfilled that welcome pop star trick of appearing as though they were having more fun than anyone in the crowd, their sharp wit turning its attention to the physical toll of their dancing, their astonishment that the lack of a bar means no one can enjoy the aftershow gin the trio were clearly looking forward to, and Fahey’s youthful years as a convent girl in Edinburgh, “back when I was a good girl, before the devil got to me”. He has the best tunes, just like Bananarama.