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Saturday October 26, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday October 26, 2013 MYT 9:22:43 AM
by william k.c. kee
Free spirit: Belinda Carlise ended her set on a high with her hit, Heaven Is A Place On Earth.
If you’re guilty of loving 1980s pop ditties, then Retrolicious was the place to be.
A LONG time ago, way before Britney Spears and her schoolgirl uniform and Miley Cyrus and her (urgh) twerking, there was Belinda Carlisle.
The former lead singer of American girl group The Go-Gos didn’t have to resort to theatricality, depending solely on her crystal clear vocals and catchy, relatable songs. Sure, they were all slickly-produced 1980s power pop, but at no point did Carlisle feel a need to strip down to her undies to sell albums.
You could argue that it was a different era then, a more innocent time, when folks were more carefree. Nowhere was this efferverscent – albeit sweaty – spirit more evident than at Retrolicious Reunion in Singapore last Saturday.
Carlisle, now 55, performed to a 6,500-strong crowd, alongside other iconic 1980s chart-toppers Rick Astley and Bananarama. All three acts have appeared at Retrolicious before, hence the showcase was touted as a reunion of sorts.
There are many 1980s pop fans, judging by the enthusiastic response to Retrolicious since its inception in 2010. Over the past three years, 25,000 fans have attended the annual festival. Held outdoors at Fort Canning Park, it is organised by Singapore-based concert organiser Running Into The Sun.
To get the audience in the mood, deejays from Class 95FM (a Singaporean English radio station) appeared on stage wearing 1980s-influenced gear. After a bit of clowning around (kept mercifully short), they introduced Carlisle to a rapturous reception.
Clad in an all-black ensemble comprising a lacy blouse, Carlisle – an animal lover and a vegetarian – performed bare-footed. With lyrics such as “Circle in the sand, ’round and ’round, never ending love is what we’ve found”, there is a whimsy to her showmanship, and she looked like she was genuinely having fun.
As a die-hard fan, I had a smile plastered on my mug throughout, and giddily sang along. It’s amazing that I knew every word to her songs, released more than two decades ago, and yet could barely remember what I had for breakfast the day before.
Carlisle performed Runaway Horses, I Get Weak, Summer Rain, La Luna, Leave A Light On and of course, her biggest hit, Heaven Is A Place On Earth. Although it was over, all too soon, it perfectly encapsulated what one loves about Belinda Carlisle.
Up next was Rick Astley, who made his fortune with a string of Stock Aitken Waterman hits in the 1980s. At the height of his success – at the young age of 27 – the Briton reportedly quit the pop industry to concentrate on his family.
Still boyish at 47, Astley conveyed anything but a family man persona throughout his performance. Just as cheeky as I remembered him at Retrolicious in 2010, he flirted shamelessly with women in the audience, encouraging them to “jiggle”.
There’s no denying that Astley’s distinctive, rich voice is still in top form, as he performed Together Forever, Hold Me In Your Arms, Cry For Help and Never Gonna Give You Up.
He also attempted a cover of The Temptations’ classic Ain’t Too Proud To Beg and my personal favourite, It Takes A Strong Strong Man. To me, the heartfelt, pathos-filled ballad remains the ultimate break-up song.
Last, but definitely not least, was Bananarama, the British female group who have had success on the pop and dance charts since 1982. (The group was founded by Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey. Following Fahey’s departure from the group in 1988, Jacquie O’Sullivan joined the group for three years. Since 1992, Woodward, 52, and Dallin, 51, have continued Bananarama as a duo.)
Midway through their rendition of The Supremes cover Nathan Jones, I was distracted by a middle-aged, pot-bellied Caucasian behind me. Obviously intoxicated on beer, he bellowed, “Oy, play us what we know!”
Naturally, he – along with everyone else – were overjoyed when Bananarama launched into the familiar strains of their biggest hits, I Heard A Rumour and Venus.
They saved the best for last, and you know I’m talking about: Love In The First Degree. The pop ditty, with the most infectious chorus this part of the universe (“Only you can set me free, ’Cause I’m guilty! Guilty as a girl can be ...”), ensured that everyone left the showcase in nostalgia-tinged good spirits. It was guilty pleasure, yes, but of the most pleasurable kind.
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Entertainment, Retrolicious, Rick Astley, Belinda Carlisle, Bananarama
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