Top Of The Pops magazine, March 1996
The International Centre, Bournemouth, February 16
Sisters are definitely doing it for themselves this evening as hundreds of gals pack out the International Centre (which closely resembles a school hall). There is only a smidgen of middle-aged couples here, compared to the hoards of teenage girls kitted out in their coolest clobber - Eternal have one heck of a funky following! As 4Mandu mount the stage, everyone rises to their feet, only to be told to sit down by the snooty guards. But hey, we're here to party!
With the distinct lack of boys in the crowd, 4Mandu are the perfect act to support Eternal. As they bump and grind their way through a handful of tunes, the audience go totally bonkers. There are plenty of flirty, smoochy numbers to keep the girls entertained and when the boys finally leave the stage, it's to deafening screams. Well done, lads!
As the lights dim and throbbing didgeridoo music booms through the speakers, the audience begin to exercise their vocal chords in anticipation of the trio's arrival. Those daring to stand up are immediately told to sit back down again (sorry, we thought this was a concert!). Still, when the silhouettes of the girls light up in the centre of the stage, we know this is the moment we've been waiting for. After a few suspense-filled minutes, the funky divas appear, pose for a brief moment and then, clad in black and white, launch feet first into Just A Step From Heaven. Splendiferous!
Who's That Guy?
With costume changes a-plenty, funky flares, huge collars, big afro wigs and black slinky numbers - there's no rushing these girls. While they disappear to don a fresh set of togs, Ivan Matias (Mariah Carey's old backing singer) comes on stage to warble for our entertainment. Informing us that he's come over from downtown New York, he croons his way through a few soulful ballads that send shivers down your spine!
It's not big and it's not clever, but when there are three girls like the Eternal chicks working the stage, anything more elaborate would be distracting. Keeping to a black and white theme, the backing singers and musicians wear a similar kit to the backdrop and stand around the girls' entrance in the middle. With just three stools and two male dancers, kitted out in what look like fireman's trousers, nothing could stop the girls' gorgeous voices keeping centre stage.
Absolutely brilliant moments include the girls stepping out in flares and afros to perform a Jackson medley - I Want You Back, ABC and Blame It On The Boogie - complete with hand jives and funky footwork. It's also pretty cool when they split up and do some songs on their own. Easther chooses a ballad with Ivan, and Vernie belts out two great numbers, but the hands-down winner is Kéllé's version of Janet Jackson's Black Cat.
Showing that practice really does make perfect, the girls' second major tour is slick, smooth and spot on. They seem to be really at home on stage now, with Kéllé looking the most relaxed, chatting and reaching out to the hoards of fans. There's no doubting these girls' ability to belt out a tune and, after their hour or so on stage, there can't have been one person who didn't want to be up there on stage with them. Apart from perhaps the man in front who didn't take his anorak off all evening! Ah well...