REVIEW: Bananarama Bring Dance Party to LA in Rare Live Show




Bananarama ‘Worth The Wait’ Fans Say

By DONNA BALANCIA
Brit songstresses of the 1980s, Bananarama, made their first U.S. appearance as the original threesome in more than 30 years last night at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles and it was a long-awaited dance party.

The girls, complete with the three original members of the beloved UK pop dance band, invaded the downtown Los Angeles venue The Novo and brought with them fans from the 1980s, mostly the gay dance crowd reliving the fun days.

Bananarama - Photo by Balancia

“I’ve waited 35 years for this,” said William, who with his crowd of pals packed the floor of the Novo. “I think they haven’t toured here because Siobhan didn’t want to.”

Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey, the three gals whose hits rang true in dance clubs around the world back in the day, were on top of their game on this particular Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Bananarama photo by Balancia

And despite whatever differences, the girls were in agreement last night, playing all the hits ranging from “Nathan Jones,” “Robert DeNiro,” “Cruel Cruel Summer,” and “Venus,” to excited and emotional fans. Of particular note was the set decoration and incredible video show, particularly the work done with “Cheers Then,” which took a nostalgic turn depicting Bananarama from their early pop heyday.

The girls have had their share of commercial success with the songs, including “Venus” which most of the younger set likely knows from the razor blade commercials.  And if they’re not, most of the songs could easily fit into the score of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”

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Bananarama made an impressive show at Novo – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Richard Blade opened the night with a DJ set and guessing game of “Name That Tune,” that encompassed songs by all the 1980s pop singers.  He mentioned that he, too, said it had been many years since he saw the girls all together live.

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Bananarama on top of their game – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

“Tonight my husband said, ‘Don’t worry about how much it costs, we’re going,” said Norma who herself could have passed for one of the singers and who attended the show with husband George, a spitting image of Bruce Campbell. “We have four kids and sometimes we feel we want to get out and go see bands we used to like, so when we heard Bananarama was making this rare appearance we bought tickets.”

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Gorgeous set design and gorgeous girls, Bananarama bring back the good times at Novo – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

The Novo was packed for the rare occasion, with not an empty seat by the time the main event was under way.

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Bananarama play only four North American dates on this tour: LA, San Francisco, Toronto and NYC – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

The girls wore Swarovski crystals on black fatigues and boots and jumped around on stage as if they did not miss a beat from the 1980s when they were at the top of the dance charts in the UK. In the U.S., they had success mainly in the cities like New York, LA and San Francisco, the three cities on their current tour. The girls were to play San Francisco Wednesday,  then Toronto on Friday, and New York City Saturday, then they’re back to the UK. See their Facebook page for tour/ticket details. 

Richard Blade mingles with the crowd – Photo by Balancia

On the first opening note of “Nathan Jones,” it was clear the crowd would be following along with every fancy and dance-coordinated step the girls made, as fans enjoyed singing along with every word of the music.

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Bananarama all together again and looking fab at the Novo – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Blade opened the night spinning ’80s tunes and playing a new version of “Name that Tune,” giving away shirts and signed copies of his new book.  After the show there was a line for the book, which is a tell-all about his years in radio.

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Bananarama loves the crowd and the feeling is mutual – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

There’s not a bad seat in the house at the Novo and for a change of pace, the VIP balcony is worth the reasonable price, particularly if you’ve had a few decades worth of dancing and you want to watch the action from a comfortable vantage.