Sat 3 May – Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, Billiam, Luigi Masi
I'm sure there are hundreds of blog posts out there dedicated to these lovely ladies, but let's face it, what everyone wants are the thoughts of a man in his 40s, who's just seen them live.
After much pleading and pestering, I finally persauded my seven year old daughter to accompany me to Belfast's Odyssey Arena to see the show.
First impression was the massive discrepancy in scale compared to my other two gigs this year -- Gary Numan (approx 300 punters), Nightwish (approx 800), Girls Aloud (approx 6000!!!) AND they sold out three nights, making approx 18000 in Belfast alone. Impressive or what?
So the next impression was the support acts. Yes acts. Three of them. Rather like visiting a restaurant and getting three starters -- generous but rather sickening.
First on was a group of lads called Billiam, whose name and performance came dangerously close to the word bilious. They sang a few nursery rhymes and jogged around the stage for about 20 minutes.
Next was a bloke called barely audible. I'm sure that was his name. Just as well he was on early, as he looked like he'd need to be up for school in the morning. To be honest, he wasn't bad. And he's on Myspace. Good luck in finding him.
Finally, a bunch of Girls Aloud wannabes came on. They called themselves the Saturdays, but by this performance, I reckon the wet Wednesdays might be more appropriate. At least one of their songs had the decency to use Yazoo's 1982 classic; 'Situation' as backing. I reckon this lot were booked to make Girls Aloud look even better when they finally came on. If they ever came on.
My daughter was getting a bit bored by now and was less than impressed with the Girls time-keeping. I was quietly praying that we'd seen the last of the support acts. To be honest, my farting farmyard impressions would have blown the rest of them off the stage.
The Saturdays thankfully departed and the lights went on. We were treated to a few pop videos, and then suddenly the show started. The curtains went back, and there were the girls, suspended in mid-air. This was going to be a classy show. None of your two torches and a disco ball here. We got fireworks and everything -- for the opening number!
Distance was a problem. Fifty four rows back does shrink your view a bit. Whereas you had to apologise for knocking Gary Numan off stage on the way to the loo, you really needed a pair of binoculars to ascertain that Girls Aloud actually were on stage. Fortunately there were a couple of big TV screens. And about a million little mobile phone screens.
I mean seriously what is the point of people doing this? 'Look I got 14 seconds of a blurry noise and somebody's head.' Woo-hoo.
Anyway, back to the show. The ladies were running through their repotoire in fine fashion. 'You can't escape my biology.' No we couldn't.
It quickly became apparent that Nadine and Nicola were doing a lot of carrying in the vocal department. Nadine seemed thrilled to be back 'home' and did some lovely inter-song banter. At least I assume it was lovely as we couldn't actually hear it.
But she looked nice and smiled a lot, so that was good enough for me.
I hadn't realised how many cover versions Girls Aloud had done. The Pointer Sister's 'Jump' was great -- better than the original in my book. But 'Walk This Way'? Well what can you say? They were game to give it a go.
Then there's Salt N Pepa's 'Push It', which relies almost entirely on it's funky little riff, so it's tough to mess up.
Particularly nice though, was the Pretenders' 'Stand By You', not only because it's a nice version, but also because the ladies felt sorry for us lonely folks at the back and came halfway down the hall via a nifty gantry, just to sing it for us. That was nice.
No expense was spared. Hunky male dancers, great slide show, fireworks, costume changes, you name it, they had it.
Highlights included 'Call The Shots', an astonishingly good track so deep into their career, 'Can't Speak French' and the encore; 'Something Kinda Ooh', which had just about everything thrown into it apart from Gordon Brown, which was a relief.
I have to say that the girl's figures did give me slight cause for concern. They really could go a few fish suppers. Come on ladies, a few curves wouldn't hurt!
And the vocals were frequently lost in the mix.
But hey, this was a spectacle, not a virtuoso vocal performance. And boy was it fun.
We got all the hits, all the fireworks and all the flaunting we could possibly want.
And it ain't easy to please a seven year old and a forty four year old, but tonight ladies, you managed it. Nice one.