In December, during a discussion of music, a colleague lowered his voice, leaned in close to me conspiratorialy and confessed that he would be going to see the Vengaboys at their upcoming tour.
‘But my wife is making me take her!’ he added quickly.
I replied proudly that I needed no excuse, and updated him with the latest rumour that I had heard from reputable sources: that the Vengabus, quite literally, would be coming, stopping at each of the destinations of the tour along with the band. I professed that I would be disappointed if I did not get to go inside – or at least see and be photographed standing by – the Vengabus during the Vengaboys’ Australian tour.
Corner Hotel, January 12, 2012
When I arrived at the Corner, I met some people who had purchased ‘VIP’ tickets, apparently from some kind of agency, which included a ticket to the venue from the CBD in the ‘Vengabus’ which apparently allowed them to BYO alcohol before meeting the driver at Young and Jackson’s, and I realised that everyone had been duped. Vengabus, indeed. It sounded like little more than some party bus operator making a quick buck. So I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t get to see this ‘Vengabus.’
My colleague had given me a piece of gossip of his own. He’d told me that the support band would be a local group called ‘The Herbs,’ a Spice Girls tribute show. It was disappointing for me to hear that because I’m not such a Spice Girls fan, and I could think of plenty of local original supports who would have fit perfectly. Never the less, I was pleasantly surprised to see that The Herbs, complete with sequinned outfits, brought their own style to the songs. Their covers sounded a bit like how members of the Strokes, Killers and Mars Volta might if they decided to meet in a garage to jam over Spiceworld on mute. Unfortunately the group’s set was first delayed, and ultimately cut short by what they described as technical difficulties. Personally, I thought they could have continued without the defective bass drum, but it seemed like the majority of the audience would much have preferred the piped Hits Of The ’90s compilations being played over the PA.
After a little pushing and shoving from people in sailor hats telling me adamently that they actually are a Vengaboy, the rarely-closed Corner curtain opened and the real Vengaboys appeared on stage in trademark costume. Real, that is, insomuch as this is what we know the Vengaboys to be today – apparently the lead singer is the only remaining member, certainly the boys have been replaced, and was that a replacement backup girl singer too?
As the group broke immediately into song and barely choreographed dance, I wondered suspisciously whether they were lipsynching. Certainly, they were doing little more than singing along to album versions of their songs. But as the applause from the first song died down, and Kim stode to the front of the stage to greet the audience – ‘Hello, party people!’ – and leaned forward to reveal dangerous amounts of cleavage, before announcing ‘This is Captain Kim speaking. Welcome aboard Venga Airways…’ I either convinced myself that they were really singing, or that it didn’t matter if they were only lipsynching. Everyone was here to dance to the hits. And they tore through them, barely a word spoken between songs, just how I like it. If not for the groping on stage, it might have looked like a show for children, with dance-along chants of Up And Down.
It was a fun show, but it left me feeling a little disappointed. One disappointment was caused by myself. For some reason, I felt compelled to jump up on stage – something which I have never done. I was quickly dragged away by security staff, but it nevertheless left me feeling like I’d ruined part of the night for everyone. Secondly, the merchandise seemed to only come in large sizes. And finally, my main concern was that the band played for such a short time. It had been little more than half and hour when they marched off stage, though they immediately returned for a bizare encore, playing Shalala Lala and Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!, which they had already played during the main set. Whilst I can admit that this was better than playing an overlong set, there were still a few singles that were missed. Cheeka Bow Bow could have, if nothing else, been used as a reintroduction before the encore, and Forever As One would have broken the dance set up nicely.
That said, these were minor concerns, and I left feeling satisfied that I’d been given what I paid for. Dancing like an ugly drunk punk to We Like To Party is as fun now as it was in high school.
Originally published in Buzz Magazine.