Fascinating Aïda, Britain’s greatest singing trio, have been around in different manifestations since the golden days of 1983. I have followed them since their first appearance (I even have their first album – Sweet FA – on vinyl) and I will put up my hand, puff out my chest, and say unequivocally that ‘I am a FAN!’ The songs are still as sophisticated as they have always been, the lyrics are just as perceptive and just as downright funny and the girls still manage to find new angles to explore on any subject they take hold of. One day they will be as appreciated as Juvenal or Hogarth for the satirical light they shine on human society.
Dillie Keane, who is the powerhouse of the trio and the genius who Svengali-like holds it all together, is 103 years old now. She is joined by Adèle Anderson (36) and Liza Pulman (22), her singing starlets. Ms Keane drags her withered carcass to the piano, slumps down at the ivories, hunches over and presses her nose to the keyboard… touches the keys…and sparkles. I love Keane’s act of exhaustion, the joy she takes in portraying being worn down by time, and life, and men, and showbiz, and…and…and. It is a glorious act and she plays it to an audience who, having aged with her, pretty much feels the same. One of the great things about FA is that they know the demographic of their audience. “We’ve heard there are people under 30 in tonight’, Keane states, telling the rest of us to help them out with the references they’ll be too young to understand.
The girls sing about the menopause, being single again, fancying widowers, BREXIT, health and safety madness, the 2019 general election, social media, and more menopause. They exchange knowing glances and in doing so they allow us to join them in their wicked world of parody. There are moments of high drama and deeply moving introversion, notably Adèle Anderson magnificently performed ‘Prisoner of Gender’. A song which took her over ten years to write, it is an autobiographical response to her gender transition and a paean to her bravery and her ground-breaking life-choice. Theirs is sophisticated comedy, but it is given a particular frisson when middle-aged women say ‘dogging’ – and other sparking expletives. We love the naughtiness of it all.
If you are under 30 and not encountered FA before, open YouTube and watch them perform ‘Cheap Flights’ (it has clocked-up 25 million YouTube hits so far) and their incredibly rude Christmas song. And then book to see them live. Because the girls will be back. And I hope they come back quickly.
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (aged 52 ¾)