For around thirty years, Aussie trio, The Fabulous Singlettes – Naomi Eyers, Melissa Langton, and Diane Dixon – have graced international stages and tv screens. Particularly known for celebrating the music of 1960s “girl groups”, their beehives are still high, and their harmonies still enough to earn an “Ah-hoo” of delight.
Early on, a cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ Heat Wave was prophetic on this warm night when the sizeable overhead electric fans weren’t operating for the first set. The energetic offering also set the scene for what would be a vigorous tour of singles out of (or influenced by) Motown from the 1960s and 70s, with some surprises.
It’s some time since The Fabulous Singlettes made it big in Berlin and Britain. Perhaps their comedy routines (some recycled from past shows) haven’t moved on all that much since then. A live blind-dating show with some older gents plucked from the audience was pretty tame, and the attempts at double entendre didn’t deserve more than the weak response they received from a good opening-night crowd.
Yet, there are some appealingly nasty edges in the performance, like when Eyres shows some bratty attitude in The Leader of the Pack, and a signature piece where the girls zing marshmallows at the audience. I suspect the show would have been even more memorable with some more of this edge to contrast against the (mostly) sweet tunes.
Fair’s fair though, The Fabulous Singlettes know how to add some wacky choreography to top-class performances of hits like Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party, to more soulful tunes including Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High, and even detours to bubbly pop such as Dancing Queen by ABBA.
Even quality singing needs a little help to make a good show. Towards this, Memo’s sound team showed themselves stars in their own right, having the rare competency to keep themselves them out of the way of the music.
The four-piece band (Paul Cecchinelli – music director and keys, Marcus Ryan – drums, Dion Hirini – guitar, and Luke Hodgson – bass) produced two tight sets, compelling us to bop along. Their satisfying take on the theme from Shaft was as throbbing and seedy as 1970s Times Square.
Add in rapid-fire medleys, variations in tempo, and costume changes as bright as the talents on display, and many will exclaim Hey la-di-da The Fabulous Singlettes are back!
The Fabulous Singlettes
MEMO Music Hall, 88 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Tuesday 13 February 2018 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 17 February 2018
For more information, visit: www.thefabuloussinglettes.com.au for details.
Image: The Fabulous Singlettes – Naomi Eyers, Melissa Langton and Diane Dixon – photo by Pierre Baroni
Review: Jason Whyte