Swing Out Sister’s return to Bimbo’s
By Remi Gonzalez
I have to come clean. I am a huge Swing Out Sister fan. I love them!
Some critics have written them off as an eighties’ one-hit wonder, known worldwide for “Breakout,” which reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. in 1987. If you’ve ever seen them live, though, you know the truth is that they continue to put on a show of amazing musical artistry. Their June 3rd performance at Bimbo’s was no exception.
Swing Out Sister, formed in the U.K., took their name from a 1945 movie. Original members Andy Connell (keyboards) and Martin Jackson (drums) were later joined by vocalist Corrine Drewery. Jackson left the group after their first album.
The show at Bimbos started off with “Surrender” and it was immediately apparent that Drewery’s voice was in great form. This is the fourth time I have seen the group in concert and I have to say that Drewery never sounded better. From “Surrender,” the band went straight into “World Out of Control” from the Filth and Dreams CD, which was released in 1999 only in Japan, where the group has a sizeable and loyal fan base.
Early on in the show, I was surprised when they performed “Breakout” with a mellow, jazzy twist. Not that I’m complaining; this is the song that made me love them in the first place. I was young, it was the eighties … it was the height of civilization!
Swing Out Sister arrived at Bimbos with a new a lineup for this show. Having only one backup singer, Gina Foster, I was a little worried they wouldn’t have their signature full sound, but I was happily mistaken. Foster’s powerful voice complemented Drewery’s perfectly, while never overpowering it. Foster’s vocal strength was highlighted as she performed one of her own songs, “Expect a Miracle,” which can be found on Swing Out Sister Presents Vivo (a hard-to-find, Japan-only CD).
Another special treat – “Somewhere Deep in the Night” was performed for the very first time in the United States! My friend Brian in Texas, another Swing Out Sister devotee, was so jealous when I told him, he said, “I’m just wracked by existential angst that I’m missing this tour!” He, of course, is the real writer here.
Swing Out Sister seems to enjoy performing their songs as part of tricky medleys. The last time they were in town they performed “Now You’re Not Here” with a dollop of “No Scrubs” by TLC. Bizarre and yet amazing. This time around, they started “Somewhere in the World” with the Friends of Distinction hit, “Grazing in the Grass.” It was pure genius, fun and had me wondering, “How is it possible that Swing Out Sister is so effortlessly cool?”
The final song of the show was their version of “Stoned Soul Picnic,” which can be found on their 1997 Shapes and Patterns album. The band returned for an encore and gave everyone in the audience, including myself, what we had been waiting for: their hit “Breakout” performed in the upbeat style we are all familiar with. Another great show from a hugely underrated group.
Corrine Drewery and Andy Connell have been turning out some of the best music America never hears. If you’ve never listened to them, you should. I could go on and on about how much I love this band, but then you already know.