When joining the throng in the foyer of the Palais, it’s fair to say few of us are expecting to be regaled by a 5-foot version of Michael Buble upon entering the theatre. However, 17-year old Australia’s Got Talent finalist Liam Burrows (who one signed-photo clutching patron later assures me later is ‘going to be really famous one day!’) is a graduate of the Sinatra school of entertainment and offers good clean fun versions of popular jazz standards. As much as the audience adores him, and as impressive as his voice and charisma is, it’s his assurance that ‘the Pointer Sisters are up next’ that gets the biggest cheer.
While some of us are holding out for The Pointer Sisters’ Pinball Count from Sesame Street, it seems that, on stage, five versions of Marcellus Wallace are occupying the bandstand. Before we have a chance to wonder how such well-built men and their muscley fingers are able to play their instruments so precisely, lights dim, applause breaks out and the voices of the Pointer Sisters tell us sweetly, amidst tinkling chimes, that they ‘love the way you give your heart so freely’. And with Happiness, we’re treated to the sight of Ruth, Issa and Sadako, three generations of Pointer. With the hem lines of their skin-tight black dresses ascending as their ages descend, the familial bond is evident long before Ruth explains that Issa is her daughter, and Sadako her granddaughter. The lack of Anita is soon forgotten as the power of their voices bind and blistering version after blistering version of some of the greatest pop songs from the 1980s erupts. Automatic is the first to get some excited audience members up the front and clapping, and it’s a safe bet that none of these people know of its recent popularity through Grand Theft Auto.
Ruth is the star of the show, clearly at ease on stage and with a voice as strong as ever, though Issa’s take on He’s So Shy makes it easy to forget she was only seven when the song was released. Going back even further, the band’s (Grammy award-winning) country and western roots come to the fore for their crowd-hushing takes on Slow Hand and Fire. While these songs didn’t have quite as much slap bass, ugly computer-fed guitar solos or as many boisterously emphasised endings the first time round, focus rarely leaves the girls and their voices. Closing the first set Dare Me, possibly the most underrated pop hit from that whole decade, sounds unbelievably fresh, keytar solo and all. During the break the band introduce themselves with hilariously funky instrumental solos, the sisters return in red, pink and orange dresses. Fashion was never their strong suit, but that they look a bit daft seems totally right, and who cares what they wear when I’m So Excited goes into Neutron Dance, and is followed by Jump? Even when Liam Burrows is brought back out to remind us that he’s short and 17 and only knows one word from the song Jump, it seems that the Pointers can do no wrong. With the band giving us a few more funk blasts, the ladies dancing in unison as they exit stage left, the show’s over and the merch desk gets very busy indeed. Here’s hoping they don’t leave a 28-year gap next time.