Original Lineup of Bananarama Performs First Ever North American Show at The Novo
One of the most enduring girl groups of all-time, Bananarama, brought their world tour to The Novo in Los Angeles on Feb. 20, performing their hits from the 1980’s and beyond. Following a string of shows in their native Britain, the trio made the trek across the Atlantic for this show, the first of four to take place in North America. This current tour features the pop vocal group’s original lineup, including Siobhan Fahey, who had parted ways with Sarah Dallin and Karen Woodward in 1988. While it’s not unusual for a successful band to reunite after so many years, Bananarama’s situation is unique because they did not tour during their heydey, making this the first time the original lineup has hit the road together.
Bananarama is known to have been inspired by the girl groups of the Motown era, so it was quite fitting for them to kick off the show with their version of The Supremes’ “Nathan Jones,” an upbeat song about saying so-long to a no-good man. Next, they performed an original song that felt fitting for their first ever American show together, “Robert De Niro’s Waiting.” They followed that up with a song appropriate for our current times, the protest song “Rough Justice.” The ladies next performed their first single ever from 1981, a cover of “Aie e Mwana,” a song originally recorded by the group Black Blood. The women recounted how they were inspired to make their version despite not being familiar with the language of the lyrics, Swahili. They next launched into what is perhaps their biggest hit, “Cruel Summer,” a song about the misery of dealing with unbearable heat and loneliness.
The group managed to run through all of their biggest hits during the course of a 90-minute set that seemed to fly by, including their international number one “Venus.” Other classics performed to the delight of the audience included “I Can’t Help It,” “I Want You Back,” “Really Saying Something,” “Shy Boy,” and, for their finale number, “Love in the First Degree.”
Although Dallin, Woodward, and Fahey never achieved the same degree apart as they did together, they all continued to make memorable songs after the split, a few of which were performed at The Novo, including the catchy “Preacher Man,” a single from Bananarama’s 1989 album “Pop Life.” They also sang the stirring ballad “Stay,” a song recorded by Fahey’s post-Bananarama act Shakespears Sister that was a massive hit in the U.K. in 1992.
Decked out in semi-matching bedazzled outfits, the ladies of Bananarama playfully complained about their jetlag and poked fun at their being women of a certain age, but, all jokes aside, they proved that they still “got it,” recreating some of the moves from their videos, many of which were projected behind them during songs. Many in attendance danced along, performing the steps to songs like “I Heard a Rumor” as if they had never forgotten them, proving that Bananarama and their fun, unique brand of Brit pop is timeless.