Sugababes at The Garage
14th February 2023
Words: Christopher Richmond
It’s been a stellar twelve months to be a Sugababe. After a rocky few years in which they legally fought to reobtain the name that was rightfully theirs, they kicked off 2022 with a fireworks-laden performance at Mighty Hoopla, shut down their tent at Glastonbury due to the sheer volume of people attempting to catch a glimpse of the fabled trio, and concluded the year with the release of their eighth studio album, The Lost Tapes, to the frenzied delight of their dedicated following. The girls have started as they mean to go on with an intimate performance at The Garage as part of BRITs Week, their first gig of the year, kicking off a year of festival appearances up and down the country, an O2 Arena gig, and an Australian Tour.
We’re in the depths of the Sugababes comeback now, although the buzz of seeing Mutya, Kiesha and Siobhan on stage, the original lineup of the ever-revolving girlband, is no less exciting than it was at Mighty Hoopla in Brockwell Park almost a year ago. If anything, they’re more assured than they’ve ever been, more confident in themselves that this is the lineup the world wants to see. A year of touring the festival circuit has done the girls incredibly well. Their command of the stage and the audience is forceful and dynamic, with frequent heckles into the crowd to keep proceedings moving briskly. Their hits bleed into the next, the band segueing each track into the last, all the while underscored by the ethereally blended voices of the ‘Babes. Their setlist is meticulously crafted, carefully constructed to spread the wealth of their enduring back catalogue. The fresh arrangements of some of their classic hits ensures the momentum never lulls, with the guitar-heavy rendition of ‘Red Dress’ and the rave-ish interpretation of ‘Overload’ being immediate highlights. The finale is ‘About You Now’, the poppiest of the tracks, but they perform it with such vigour and frenzy that it’s near impossible to not get whipped up into its electropop glory, whilst the garage-adjacent ‘Freak Like Me’ harks to the origin of the trio establishing themselves in early-noughties London. The tracks from their new album, ‘Flatline’ and ‘Today’, fit into the set like they’ve always been there, stirring as much of a reaction amongst the crowd as any of their countless hit singles.
The performance simply burst with confidence and tenacity, as well as a healthy dose of daring cool. At this stage in their careers, these women are experienced professionals who have taken to the stage on the comeback trail like a duck to water, and their performance reflects that. This comes easy to them now. They filled the room with those powerful voices of theirs, the roaring crowd engaging in a battle of volume with the harmonising trio, but the girls always came out on top. And as tiny as the venue was, with hits as electrifying as ‘Hole In The Head’, ‘Round Round’ and ‘Push The Button’, and voices that melt together like butter, Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan made the room feel absolutely massive.