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Bananarama Half-Packs Universal Amphitheatre

Four costume changes. Three male dancers. Lights! Smoke! Mirrors! And even a version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”! Upon such show-biz glitz did the hit-making British female vocal trio Bananarama base its local concert debut before a half-full house Friday at the Universal Amphitheatre.

Indeed, the show was like a microcosm of POP--especially the canned, diet variety. (There were 16 tons of recorded vocal tracks along with a four-man backup band.) On record, these fabulous babes (Keren Woodward, Sarah Dallin and Jacqui O’Sullivan) can get away with singing strictly in unison, mostly because the songs are either old hits (the Shocking Blue’s “Venus,” the Velvelettes’ “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’ ”) or exceptionally clever constructions (“Cruel Summer,” “Robert De Niro’s Waiting”). On video, these fabulous babes can get away with amateurish dance routines, mostly because they’re fabulous babes. But on stage. . . .

Topped by some wildly inappropriate stage patter, the evening’s numerous unintentionally humorous moments went down much easier in the knowledge that if you didn’t like the song being performed, there’d be a different one along in three minutes and that it too would sound exactly like the vocal tracks on the records. Have you ever sat down to a great big steaming bowl of polyester?


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