Bananarama’s Keren on Adnams and razor adverts ahead of Newmarket Nights

L-R Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward from Bananarama Credit: Supplied by Chuff Media

L-R Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward from Bananarama Credit: Supplied by Chuff Media - Credit: Archant

Louisa Baldwin spoke to singer Keren Woodward ahead of 80s chart-toppers Bananarama performing at Newmarket Racecourse this summer.

Newmarket Nights Credit: Gregg Brown

Newmarket Nights Credit: Gregg Brown - Credit: Archant

For the past four decades, Bananarama have been one of the most influential pop acts in the music industry and have had ten top ten hits including Love in the First Degree, It Ain't What You Do and Robert De Niro's Waiting.

The group began in London as a trio in 1981 with members Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey and they went on to release 10 albums and sold 30 million records.

In 1988, Fahey left the group and formed Shakespears Sister and her replacement Jacquie O'Sullivan stayed with the group for three years.

Woodward and Dallin then continued as a duo and had further chart success with hits such as More More More and Move In My Direction and they released their 11th album In Stereo, the first in a decade, in April this year.

Keren Woodward from Bananarama performing at the Isle of Wight festival Credit: Yui Mok - PA Archive

Keren Woodward from Bananarama performing at the Isle of Wight festival Credit: Yui Mok - PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The pair are set to perform at Newmarket Nights as part of the summer season at the racecourse and they will be joined by Heather Small from the M People as the support act, known for hits including Search for the Hero and Proud.

Ahead of the show on August 9, which combines an evening of racing and the concert, we spoke to Keren about the moment she was starstruck and how one of the Sex Pistols launched their career.

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Are you looking forward to performing at Newmarket Nights?

L-R Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and former bandmate Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama performing on the Gr

L-R Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and former bandmate Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama performing on the Graham Norton Show Credit: Isabel Infantes - PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Yes, we've done a few racecourse events and I really enjoy performing live as we didn't get to do it much first time around.

A lot of people around me are fans of horses but they kind of scare me but I have a flutter now and then.

I live on the other side of the country in Cornwall so I don't come to this area often but the Adnams brewery is very nice.

How does it feel to have had such a long career and been so successful?

It is extraordinary as Sara and I were teenagers when it started and we had no idea it would still be going.

The 80s is an era that doesn't go away and when we do the shows we know people want to hear all the hits.

We have a new album out but we wouldn't perform songs from there at Newmarket as it is much more fun to do crowd-pleasing songs that people know and we are lucky to have so many hits.

What song do you think is the most popular with fans?

When we perform Love in the First Degree the crowd love it and it such an uplifting song which everyone wants to hear.

When Venus, that you covered and had a top ten hit with, appeared on the razor advert did it help boost the song?

It was a massive hit all over the word which we sadly didn't write but it is such an iconic song that everyone knows.

We still enjoy performing it and it goes down a storm and it has been helped the advert which has brought attention to the song once again.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Back in the day we were so desperate to do live shows and didn't really manage it and now we do it all the time and have been to places like Australia, Singapore and America and I love it.

Have you ever been starstruck?

Not with people in the music business but yes with people in other walks of life like Robert De Niro.

You get a bit immune to it when it is on the other end and when people are shocked or cry when they see me I just think, alright sweety I'm just a normal person with an extraordinary job.

How did you first get your big break?

We were about to be made homeless when Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols who we knew from clubs in the West End said we could live above their rehearsal room - it wasn't luxurious but we moved in and would sing backing vocals and play on instruments and Paul suggested we made a demo which he produced and it went from there.

What was it like to perform live for the first time?

Back then we didn't have a huge amount of experience and our early performances were far from slick but Sara and I have always been in tune with each other in terms of routines, enthusiasm and musically and we rarely get nervous now and sometimes on the bill they aren't our crowd but they end up being our crowd which is hugely satisfying.

How is the audience different this time around - are there lots of the old fans or any new ones?

Some of them been there forever and they are remarkable and come to our shows around the world which is extraordinary and very humbling.

I have been surprised to see a lot of younger people coming along with grown-up parents who have played us so they have ended up knowing all the songs.

Why did you decide to make your new album In Stereo?

We didn't set out to make an album and we haven't made one for ages but had some EPs between shows.

We love writing songs with our producer and incredible friend Ian Masterson and we realised we had enough for an album which is our first self-release without a record company.

Why should people get tickets to see Bananarama at Newmarket Nights if they haven't already?

It is a lot of fun with all the hits and more with a band who make everything sound fantastic and give our songs a different feel and energy.

Everyone will be singing and waving their hands in the air all the way through.

You can purchase tickets to see Bananarama at Newmarket Night sat and tickets start at £29.70.

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