Sugababes | Credit: Jordan Munns

Sugababes Review – Turn of the ’00s Pop Excellence

Sugababes performed at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Thursday, 23rd February. David James Young reviews.

We’re in the thick of a sold-out Enmore Theatre waiting for Sugababes‘ first Sydney show in over 20 years. Snippets of news bulletins about the group play over steadily building synths before a familiar vocal line glitches to life. And so begins the 2005 bop ‘Push The Button’, causing an eruption of applause that makes it feel like we’re back at Rumba Festival 2002.

It’s imperative to note how much the 2500-strong audience elevates tonight’s proceedings. The largely LGBTQ+ crowd – preparing for both WorldPride and Mardi Gras – has been in full voice since the pre-show playlist kicked off, belting out Nelly Furtado’s ‘Maneater’, Alexis Jordan’s ‘Happiness’ and KT Tunstall’s ‘Suddenly I See’. When the main event comes, the Sydney crowd gives every song the gusto it needs.

Siobhán Donaghy, Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan | Credit: Jordan Munns

Speaking of gusto, the Sugababes have recruited a band of noted session musicians – guitarist Francois Fasano, bass player Arran Powell, keyboardist Adrian J Moore and drummer Matty Brown – who add exemplary flourish and pizzazz to the arrangements.

During ‘Hole In The Head’, Fasano switches from acoustic up-strokes to an 80s rock guitar solo, while Brown muscles through his tom rack on an uplifting rendition of the 2013 single ‘Flatline’; a song originally credited to Mutya Keisha Siobhan, the name the trio adopted when they legally couldn’t call themselves Sugababes.

By 2019, they’d regained to rights to the original name, and god, aren’t they having fun with it? Though only present for one album of their career, Siobhán Donaghy performs every track as if it were her own. Mutya Buena, now heavily tattooed in contrast to the group’s original squeaky-clean image, comes alive during the ballads ‘Ugly’ and ‘Stronger’.

As for mainstay Keisha Buchanan, her role is to both belt out the classics and ensure the energy in the room is ebullient throughout – and this is far from her first rodeo.

Sugababes – ‘Push the Button’

For all their individual strengths, however, the final stretch of hits demonstrates what a force the Sugababes are as a collective. ‘Overload’ has the crowd enraptured, with extra choruses thrown in to squeeze as much life out of the group’s debut single as possible. ‘Round Round’ gets floorboards creaking as thousands bounce in time with the beat.

“Are there any freaks in the house?”, Buena teases. She knows damn well there are. But even if there aren’t, ‘Freak Like Me’ is guaranteed to engender a few transformations.

With an encore sing-along for ‘About You Now’, complete with another fiery Fasano guitar solo, the Sugababes take their leave. Never mind “where are they now?” – after such a fun, lively and affirming performance, the only question you should be asking is “when’s the next gig?”

Further Reading

Sugababes Announce 2023 Australian Reunion Shows

Kim Petras To Headline Sydney WorldPride Closing Concert

MUNA, G Flip, Peach PRC Added To Sydney WorldPride Lineup 2023

Must Read