Forget The Saturdays, Little Mix, Girls Aloud, The Sugababes and even The Spice Girls, Monday evening belonged to the girl group with the most chart entries In the world, Bananarama!
A regular buyer of the groups records (when they were all vinyl) in the 1980s, I never dreamed that one day I would get the opportunity to see the original line-up of Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey perform live, particularly as Siobhan had left the group in 1988. So as fans packed into St David’s Hall on Monday evening, anticipation was high!
However, Bananarama weren’t scheduled to be on stage until 8.45 and a DJ had the task of warming up the St David’s Hall audience. An unusual support in a seated venue, the tones of Cathy Dennis and Whitney Houston seemed lost on the audience as they took selfies and read updates on their mobile phones.
At 8.50pm the band took to the stage and struck up the chords for a cover of The Supremes hit, Nathan Jones. Keren, Sara and Siobhan then stepped on to the stage, dressed in dark spangley dance outfits befitting of their 1980s personas to a backdrop of video and digital effects.
Fun, fabulous and with a dash of pizzazz, Bananarama had arrived and the audience lapped up the atmosphere. We wouldn’t need to be told twice when the ladies told us to get out of our seats and dance.
Classic hits followed from both phases of Bananarama’s 1980s career. The early Jolley/Swain produced numbers Robert De Niro’s Waiting, Shy Boy, Cruel Summer and Rough Justice crashed into the live set with vitality and energy along with later Stock/Aitken and Waterman produced smashes Venus, I Heard A Rumour and Trick Of The Night.
The set-list only diverted from the Bananarama back catalogue once, as the girls performed the number one hit, Stay from Siobhan’s later group Shakepear’s Sister. Siobhan had briefly left the stage, so Sara and Keren could begin the song, proving that it could work well within a Bananarama set-list. “I’m back,” joked Siobhan after they finished Stay, “I only left for three minutes, not thirty years like last time!”
The show closed on the groups cover of Steam’s Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye before returning for an encore with T’aint What You Do It’s the Way That You Do It and Love in The First Degree.
Delivering a 90-minute set of greatest hits to an enthusiastic Cardiff audience, Bananarama showed they still have plenty of Wow factor. For me, I briefly returned to the fun I endured listening to Bananarama’s music as a teenager. I guess there were some good points to the 1980s after all!