Marshall Artists Presents
60 min • Scala, London • August 1, 2013
It’s quite fitting that on one of the most sweltering evenings in London this year, one of the hottest tickets rolled into town at Scala in North London.
As MKS walked onto the stage, their first full set in this line-up since 2001, the pounding intro of the still maverick ‘Overload’ reverberated around the room and the crowd went ballistic. This slick, left-field pop classic has not lost any of its shimmer and the vocal harmonies remain pure gold. There were some wonderful beaming smiles from the girls as they commanded and enthralled the sold-out audience.
Opting next for one of their most bittersweet ballads, ‘Run For Cover’, the beautifully ethereal harmonies that personify these minstrels are on show and remind the audience how groundbreaking they were at such a young age – and, furthermore, that the song is a timeless, mid-tempo ballad.
Showcasing new song ‘It’s Alright’, we could have been forgiven for thinking that En Vogue had replaced MutyaKeishaSiobhan on the stage. This smooth, soulful ballad will be an enormous US crossover.
In a venue where the amount of gay energy could have conjured up a Cher hologram, Keisha Buchanan had her tongue firmly in her cheek when she asked “Who likes boys?”, precursing new song ‘Boys’. In fact, it was Buchanan who endeared herself most to the audience and had the most crowd interaction, which would seem to betray the press portrayal of her as the difficult bully.
Not that Mutya Buena or Siobhan Donaghy failed to set the crowd alight. Buena had merely to glance into the audience and smile to cause waves of cheers to take over the intimate venue. There was actual seismic activity when Donaghy seized the middle-eight from ‘Stronger’, truly a moment to make the hairs stand up on the back of your arm. Having seen Donaghy perform a set of her cruelly ignored, sophomore album Ghosts and also on the stage in William Baker’s redux of ‘Rent’ as ‘Mimi’, it’s wonderful to see her back on stage, enjoying the moment and being more than welcomed back into the fold by her accomplices and fans alike.
There were rousing performances of new songs ‘Love Me Hard’, which has Biff Stannard all over it; ‘Today’, produced by wunderkind MNEK; and a low-down, dirty rendition of the gigantic ‘Freak Like Me’, which had the crowd literally Jumpin’ Jumpin’.
The most poignant number of the night was perhaps ‘No Regrets’, which has parallels with the journey of these wonderfully talented young women. There is a soaring chorus that echoes the epic darkness in ‘Too Lost In You’.
Returning to the stage for an encore featuring first the stunning ‘Lay Down In Swimming Pools’, the roof was yanked off completely when the songstrels launched into forthcoming new single ‘Flatline’, weaving into a canny, spellbinding mash-up with ‘Push The Button’ ending the evening on a magnificent high.
The audience witnessed both a coming of age and a rites of passage story unfold before their eyes with these women, and this concert was less like a reunion but rather more like a reinvigoration of the promise that the young teenagers showed us 15 years ago when walking the line with Cameron McVey.
As the death knell sounds on the current Sugababes line-up, the fans now wait for the new album from the originals. Superb.