It’s official: the ’90s are now retro. The earliest signs came in 2007, with the Spice Girls’s record-breaking reunion tour, and again this year, when Steps launched a surprise hit comeback.
Now, showing that the appetite for ’90s cheese is only getting bigger, Dutch dance-pop outfit the Vengaboys head to Australia in January for what’s shaping up to be an improbably successful tour — three sold-out nights at Melbourne’s iconic rock venue the Corner Hotel, amongst other dates nationwide.
“It makes me feel kind of old,” the group’s unofficial lead, Kim Sasabone, chuckled when the Star Observer asked her about her retro status.
“It’s funny though — the ’70s and ’80s parties used to be really hot, and now it’s ’90s. We’ve done so many shows here in Europe with artists like 2Unlimited and Dr Alba, and it’s so much fun.”
The Vengaboys had a string of hits from 1997 – 2001 using a simple formula: mix tinny, hi-NRG dance anthems (Boom Boom Boom Boom, We Like To Party) with more laidback faux-reggae pop songs (We’re Going To Ibiza, Uncle John From Jamaica). Earworm tracks the lot of them, but it’s hard to imagine how the shiny happy four-piece would translate them in a live setting.
“We don’t perform with a band — we’re not singer-songwriters,” Sasabone said with no small amount of understatement.
“But once you’ve seen our show, you’ll understand it. Everyone everyone sings along, and it brings back memories for so many people.”
And while they may not have troubled the charts in Australia for more than a decade, as Sasabone explained, the group’s hiatus was actually little more than two years long.
“We continued performing until 2004, even though we’d stopped releasing new music in 2001. But by 2004 we’d been travelling around the world for seven years, so we decided to go our separate ways and enjoy life to the fullest.
“We didn’t really intend to get back together, but our [concert] booker called or emailed me at least once a week during the break with offers for tours and concerts, so in 2006, we started again.”
Through it all, she said, the Vengaboys gay fans have been the most loyal.
“They were pretty much there from the beginning. We’ve performed at many many gay events and gay pride parties all over the world. You guys were always there!”
INFO: Vengaboys tour Australia January 11 – 22. Tickets through www.bigtix.com.au