Chanelle Tourish catches up with pop sensations B*Witched and 5ive ahead of their MiXTAPE Rewind gig in Dubai to find about how they view today’s music scene and to quiz them on their current success.
The ’70s gave us rock music, the ’80s brought us disco and the ’90s will always be remembered for giving us cheesy pop. The decade was filled with boy bands with spikey hair, girl bands with crop tops and a whole lot of action song dance moves. Who can forget the image of Irish girl band B*Witched dancing around a field in double denim while singing ‘C’est La Vie’ or British boy band 5ive clad in oversized trousers and leather jackets singing ‘When the Lights Go Out’.
The ’90s produced some unforgettable pop songs. So it’s of little surprise that MiXTAPE Rewind’s latest event is bringing the era’s poster boy, Peter Andre, to these shores to play a one-night concert at Emirates Golf Club alongside B*Witched and 5ive on Friday November 21. Get ready for an evening of nostalgia as hits such as ‘Mysterious Girl’, ‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘Everybody Get Up’, are belted out live on stage.
The four-piece Irish girl group, made up of twin sisters Edele and Keavy Lynch (sisters of Boyzone’s Shane Lynch), Lindsay Armaou and Sinead O’Carroll, originally hit the music scene in 1997. The group were a success in both Europe and the US between 1998 and 2000 – they released two albums and eight singles, all of which charted in the UK Top 20.
‘The industry is very different now compared to back then,’ says Lindsay Armaou. ‘For a start, we are very different now as a group. We were young and had no obligations back then. The band was our lives and we were under a lot of pressure with our label to sell records. Now, it’s more about the live aspect and playing shows, so making a mark in the charts isn’t as important for us. It’s not necessarily what we are about as a band.’
B*Witched’s first four singles ‘C’est La Vie’, ‘Rollercoaster’, ‘To You I Belong’ and ‘Blame it on the Weatherman’, all reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.
‘There are certain pop songs that just get forgotten about and there are others that stand the test of time. I think “C’est La Vie” is just a really good pop song. It’s still played in clubs and it has come on when I’ve been clubbing, so I’ve seen that people love to get up and pretend to do a jig. It just reminds people of being young and having fun,’ Lindsay says.
In 2002, having sold more than three million albums worldwide, B*Witched were dropped by their record label and when Sinead decided to leave soon afterwards, the band split up. After taking time out from music, Lindsay decided to pursue a career in acting and moved to London for two years to hone her skills. She went on to star in stage productions and short films.
Then, in 2012, the girls were approached by UK TV channel ITV to reunite and take part in a documentary called The Big Reunion.
‘I always had a feeling that at some point we would do something together again, I just didn’t know when or how. I didn’t expect us to do what we have done these past two years, reuniting and touring again with a sell-out arena gig. It’s been amazing,’ says Lindsay.
The documentary series saw B*Witched reunite for the first time in a decade and followed them through weeks of intensive rehearsals before finally the girls stepped back on stage for their comeback performance.
Lindsay says, ‘For us, the whole reality TV side of things was very new, we didn’t have that back in the day. We were a band who were seen on TV with polished performances, but this was behind the scenes, so it was challenging. But I loved that we were getting to do it all again, we rekindled our friendship, and talked through certain issues and now our friendship is stronger.’
The show was a success and the band went on to perform alongside fellow ’90s groups 5ive, Atomic Kitten, Liberty X, 911, Blue and Honeyz in an arena tour across the UK and Ireland.
‘The ’90s was an amazing era for pop music. People miss it and the industry is very different now, music has changed. There just isn’t pure pop music out there. We came to Dubai around 15 years ago and we are really looking forward to returning,’ she adds.
The band promises to delight fans with classic tracks and new songs from their latest EP, which was released in September this year.
‘It’s a nod to who B*Witched were back in the ’90s and a representation of who we are now. It’s still a pop record and makes you want to get up and dance and of course it still has the Irish element to it, which is our unique sound,’ Lindsay says.
The former five-piece, aptly named 5ive, now consists of just three members, Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville and Scott Robinson. Formed in 1997 with further two members – Jason ‘J’ Brown and Abz Love – the group who were signed to Simon Cowell’s record label, achieved success with three UK number one singles. In 2001, after a few short years, the band split.
In 2012, the group also got a second chance to reunite as part of the ITV documentary series The Big Reunion.
‘We were lucky enough to be successful everywhere. For a long time I thought that the chance was gone to perform as 5ive. When we reunited we always thought it would be a success because of the documentary, but we were surprised to see just how it has all gone and the success we have had since the show,’ explains Scott.
Abz initially joined the group for the documentary, but he has since left the band to much shock from the other members.
‘He didn’t really tell the rest of us, but no one is forced to be in the band. We actually want it to be a good experience and enjoy it, and that’s what me and the other boys (Ritchie and Sean) are doing. We don’t want this journey to stop,’ adds Scott.
The three piece have chosen to stay as 5ive and are looking forward to coming to Dubai before heading to Russia to perform.
‘It was brilliant reconnecting with some of the bands we worked with back in the ’90s for The Big Reunion. We were all going through the same thing, recapturing what we once had, so we had some great times,’
For a trip down memory lane, pull your cap on backwards, kit yourself out in double denim and in the words of 5ive, ‘Everybody get up!’.
MiXTAPE Rewind Dhs275. Friday November 21. Emirates Golf Club, Sheikh Zayed Road. www.timeouttickets.com
Three more old-school nights out to try
DJ Adam Graca plays a mix of pop hits and feel-good vibes from the ’90s and noughties every Thursday night.
Free (reservations recommended). Mahiki, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim (04 380 7731).
Purple Rain ’80s Night
DJ Gilbert spins ’80s music from the top artists of the time. Take advantage of buying a cheese board and receive a free bottle of house grape.
Free. Fridays 9pm-3am. Bapas, The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 385 8881).
One of the most popular Thursday nights in the city, you can dance and party like it’s 1999 with the funkiest tunes blasted at this retro Dubai hotspot. Promising to welcome the weekend in with a bang, the soundtrack is jam-packed with old-school classics.
Free. 10pm-3am. Societe Dubai, Marina Byblos, Dubai Marina (050 357 1126).