“Don’t fuck with the originals” says one overtly-excited fan. The rest of the crowd couldn’t have agreed more….
August 1st 2013 will be heralded for one occasion in the pop music calendar; and what an occasion. After 13 years, Siobhan Donaghy crept back in through ‘THAT’ toilet window, and joined her two other pop cohorts onstage at what was well and truly an epic event. That event? Mutya Keisha Siobhan’s comeback gig of course – the first time the trio had played in front of a live audience since officially confirming their reformation back in July 2012. Let’s discard that [brilliant] surprise Ponystep New Years Eve performance last December; tonight was THEIR night.
I’m going to be totally frank on this one – the weird thing is (and of course totally happy to hear your views on this), is that, say Siobhan had never left, they went on to record sophomore album Angels With Dirty Faces, disbanded, and then used tonight as a reunion gig, I just don’t think it would have been as special. Let’s face it, one of the big reasons for all the hype around the reformation (bar the fact these three ladies are fucking talented!) was that that every single person who has ever had an ear for UK pop (and is, say, younger than 40), knows the Sugababe story. Tonight, Siobhan took her place, rightfully, on stage with Mutya and Keisha. The crowd loved it; the girls loved it. It was like that missing piece of the puzzle had been found and everything was complete again.
Opening with their classic anthem Overload, the crowd couldn’t stop but grin from ear-to-ear and sing along. The track, like much of the band’s vast discography, has been covered over the four generations of the Sugababes (I still fathom to think that four generations of ANY band has been allowed), however this was just beautiful. A rightful opener to the night – the girls were basically shouting from the rooftops with a ‘guess who’s back?’.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – Overload (Live @ Scala)
Then we get into Run For Cover, another standout track from the girls’ debut LP One Touch. I remember hearing this way back in the early 2000s, thinking ‘whatever happens to this group, they’ll never write a song better than this’. Run For Cover is such a brilliant track; it’s stood the test of time, and it sounded as good tonight live as the studio version did back then over a decade ago.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – Run For Cover (Live @ Scala)
Two oldies in, the trio decide to unleash a brand new track on us all. I’m Alright is sublime; it’s sheer ‘Mutya Keisha Siobhan if they were still called the Sugababes but they’re not’. One thing that the first three generations of the Sugababes did well were funky ballads, and this is true to that – take a listen to the video below and you’ll ‘get’ what I mean. We were waiting with open arms to hear new material, and I’m Alright did not disappoint.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – I’m Alright (Live @ Scala)
Now, the next bit was ridiculously special. Stronger. That song really needs little by way of introduction. Regardless that the track was recorded sans-Siobhan, it will still go down as one of the defining tracks of the Sugababes; it boosted credibility and it sounds still as relevant today as it did in 2002. However, hearing Siobhan’s tackle Heidi’s bridge was just the definitive moment of my night, and speaking to others after, many felt the same. After even just the open of her mouth, the crowd roared with cheers for Siobhan… even Keisha and Mutya looked proud, facing the audience and spurring them on to give Ms Donaghy all she deserves. It felt like it was a final nail in the coffin for the Sugababes…. move aside, MKS are here. Rewatching the video doesn’t give it the same feeling, but you’ll understand what I mean when you get to ‘that’ part.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – Stronger (Live @ Scala)
The night moved on, and went too quickly for my liking…. following Stronger were new tracks Love Me Hard, Today and Boys; the latter two both produced by 18-year old wonderkid MNEK. I’d heard an early version of Boys around a year ago, it sounds sublime live.
Following a final newbie, No Regrets, the girls threw down Freak Like Me; it’s a classic and the crowd went wild.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – Freak Like Me (Live @ Scala)
After leaving the stage for a couple of minutes, the girls returned for their encore. Their cover of Kendrick Lamar’s Swimming Pools (or the MKS version, renamed as Lay Down In Swimming Pools) was unfortunately let down by Mutya’s dodgy microphone – big shame as the reworking is a firm favourite of mine. Damn technology!
Closing with Flatline (with the girls throwing in a bit of Push The Button), there was nothing but smiles from the crowd. It was just a wonderful wonderful comeback. I wasn’t going beserk with dancing; I spent a large amount of time during the night just taking in what was actually happening in front of me.
Mutya Keisha Siobhan – Flatline (Live @ Scala)
Things have gone full-circle; as NME’s editor put it during the evening, Mutya Keisha Siobhan are the UK’s Destiny’s Child. They have credibility, they have style, they have a cracking discography, and now, they have our hearts. Suga never tasted sweeter.