By Aline Mahrud
WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Thursday 4 August 2022
SETLIST: Masquerade; Stay Wild; Intoxicated; Every Shade Of Blue; Move In My Direction; Velvet Lies; Looking For Someone; Let’s Go Outside Audience Q&A Stuff Like That; Bad Love; Brand New; Favourite; Look On The Floor; Waiting For The Sun; Forever Young; Running With The Night; Love In The First Degree
Bananarama may be best known as a trio but it’s easy to forget that they’ve actually been a duo – Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin – for 30 years.
- Read on for reasons including how the band have other surprises in store to celebrate their 40th anniversary
Just days after the triumph of the Lionesses, England’s women’s football team, in the Euros it’s perhaps fitting that the band should show its female strength by being joined onstage for several numbers by Sara’s daughter, Alice D (pictured centre above), after Bananarama covered 2 of her songs on the LP they are launching tonight, a recent album of the month for us.
We love how the album Masquerade evokes current artists like The Weeknd and Jessie Ware who are drawing on the past to make some of the most thrilling music of the present and it’s a revelation to hear almost all of that album in full tonight alongside some of the band’s best loved work of the duo years.
We last saw the band live at the similarly intimate Omeara in London in 2019 and, like then, they incorporate an audience Q&A into their set.
Evidence of the duo’s dry humour is obvious from the off with Keren lightening the mood with a: ‘Last night I was worried that I might not remember all the lines to this song and now I realise I don’t care.’
This is 1 of 2 gigs on consecutive nights at this venue to celebrate an album that marks the 40th anniversary of the band.
Keren and Sara are asked whether there will be other moments to mark the achievement and they insist that more is to come.
One questioner asks whether like the ABBA-tars in the ABBA Voyage show, the band had thought about the idea of Banana-tars? Sara observes: ‘We love a bit of ABBA but we haven’t seen it. It would definitely be good to be able to go on tour without having to do any of the work.’
Another audience member asks whether the success of the Steps song Last Thing On My Mind, which Keren and Sara originally wrote and recorded, has kept them in ‘vodka and cigarettes’ – and from their laughs it appear it might have helped.
Keren, formerly married to Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley, notes drily at 1 point: ‘I’ve never been attracted to famous people.’
We also learn that they would be keen to work with Pet Shop Boys and initially were concerned no-one would turn up to their 2019 Glastonbury appearance which was actually very well-attended.
They speak about their love of Prince and sadness at his death, invitations not yet fulfilled to appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race, love of both Tom Hardy and Joaquin Phoenix and are frustrating evasive about an idea for a musical which they’ve discussed before and makes us wonder whether this might be the news they’re teasing but cannot yet reveal.
But it’s the music we’re here for and the 2nd set begins strongly on the dancefloor and goes into the brilliant frenzy of Bad Love which is, we think, our highpoint of so very many from the new collection.
All too soon it’s over but the band do treat us to a final song that is 1 of their biggest hits – Love In The First Degree – and it leaves us feeling what a brilliant night this has been even without many of the songs for which the band are most loved.