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3am: SUGA AND SPITE; Babes' split looms after fight cancels gig.

Byline: JESSICA CALLAN, EVA SIMPSON AND CAROLINE HEDLEY

THEY are Britain's most volatile girlband - now it looks like the Sugababes are on the brink of finally splitting up.

The pop stars cancelled a sell-out Dublin gig on Saturday night, just 10 minutes before they were due to play after Keisha Buchanan and Heidi Range had an almighty catfight backstage at the Olympia Stadium.

Third Babe Mutya Buena stepped in to break up the fight as her bandmates screamed and laid into each other.

But even she couldn't calm them down. Despite the packed venue, the feuding girls stormed off and caught the first flight back home to London, refusing even to apologise to 1,300 furious fans.

The group are now facing a crisis meeting with their record label Universal and management in a bid to ensure the rest of the tour goes ahead. A tour insider tells us: "Two of the girls had a blazing row. It was chaos.

"They got on the first flights back to London which is where they are now and they are still not speaking.

"The problem is they spend so much time working together - and that causes friction."

The stroppy trio had played Belfast on Thursday and performed in Killarney on Friday without any problems. But the Dublin show was to be the highlight of the tour and fans travelled from all over the country. Yesterday the band's aides were desperately trying to play down any rift. A spokesman insisted: "Two of the girls have acute laryngitis so the shows were cancelled.

"They'll be rescheduled and tickets will still be valid. We will also offer full refunds. The rest of the UK tour is going ahead."

The incident is the latest in a long line of bust-ups which have overshadowed the Brit-nominated band.

Last August Keisha, 18, Mutya, also 18, and Heidi, 20, mysteriously cancelled their UK tour. And they pulled a sickie for Radio Aire's Party In The Park last July.

The band is split into two camps with Keisha and Mutya on one side and Heidi, who replaced original Babe Siobhan Donaghy, on the other.

Recently Keisha revealed the band still get nervous before going on stage. She said: "One way we deal with it is by praying."

Maybe it's time to try a new tactic before it is too late.

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FALL OUT: Mutya, Keisha and Heidi
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 8, 2004
Words:398
Previous Article:3am: ALBUMS.
Next Article:3am: HOLLY NOT SO JOLLY; Stroppy star's Oz Grand Prix tantrum.


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