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Monday, February 26, 2018

'Cheers Then' Bananarama Reunites in NYC for a Fantastic Celebration of Music and Love

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It was a historic night at The PlayStation Theater in NYC on Feb. 24th when a reunited Bananarama breezed into town and put on an absolutely brilliant show. The crowd lined up outside the venue was truly electric with so many fans (myself included) having waited 35 years for an opportunity to see the trio perform live. Siobhan Fahey returned to the fold, joining musical sisters Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin onstage for a string of U.K. dates late last year and the tremendous audience reaction prompted them to add a North American leg to their sold out The Original Line Up Tour. The NYC gig closed it out in the most fantastic way.

Bananarama's goal going in was to honor their own legacy while throwing one heck of a party for their extended family of fans that truly spans the globe. “This current tour is all about our celebrating our time as a trio. The whole point of doing it was to welcome back Siobhan and to do these songs with her. Every time that Sara and I saw her, either in London or at her home in LA, we would be dancing around and singing. It was hard to imagine that we had never done these shows with her and she absolutely embraced it, which is amazing. Right now this show makes sense and we're having a ball,” said Woodward, in a phone interview a few weeks ago.

Celebrate they did. The ladies cracked out some of their earliest songs like “Rough Justice,” and their very first demo ever cut, “Aie A Mwana,” sung in Swahili, was just fantastically packaged. It really set the tone for the rest of the show. It's amazing to think that Dallin, Woodward, and Fahey had ever parted ways because their voices are sharp as ever. Smooth and layered harmonies on songs like “Robert De Niro's Waiting,” and “Trick of the Night”may actually be better now than when the songs were originally recorded. Their band is also truly fantastic and cheers to the lighting directors who created an atmosphere that syncs with each and every song.

Speaking of cheers, “Cheers Than”, followed by Fahey's Shakespear's Sister hit, “Stay,” provided longtime fans with an emotional punch, one that seemed to help heal the group a bit more even before our eyes. I remember thinking how happy I was that Fahey was having the chance to experience all of the love surrounding her. Girl groups always bring an interesting dynamic with them. On this rainy NYC evening, you could really feel the love and gratitude spilling across the stage before rolling into the audience. Bananarama's fan family is like no other and thankfully, they know it.

“It has been an absolutely amazing experience, with such an overwhelming response. The emotion in the crowd and all of that emotion on stage is actually quite unexpected and incredible. It's the whole reason why we decided to bring the show to the states and to do a couple of other things as well. It's just been so fabulous. A really wonderful experience,” explains Woodward.

That equally wonderful experience caused the crowd at The PlayStation Theater to become fully electric by the time classic hits like “I Heard a Rumour,” and “Cruel Summer” were cranked out. The energy level got stronger as the show rolled on and their hit cover of The Shocking Blue's “Venus” turned the venue into a “kitchen disco” for about 3,000 people.

When I asked Woodward what she wanted people seeing the show to take with them as they left, her response struck a nerve. “I feel it's important to set an example at this age, to remind people that if they put their minds to something they can still do it and hey, you might surprise yourself! I think it can actually be quite difficult for women of our age to be seen or heard. You might feel written off because of other people's attitudes but ultimately that comes back to you. You're not too old to do things or change things that are making you unhappy. Hopefully, people can look at us and think- if they can do it then I can do it too.”

Perhaps the best part of the evening for me was actually hearing women say that they were inspired by the energy, resilience, and joy of this fantastic trio of women. My fingers are crossed that they add more U.S. dates to their calendar because the fans are ready and waiting.

***ICYMI: Here is the link to my interview with Keren Woodward!

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