Rosemary Mac Cabe

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Girls Aloud Ten: The Hits live – a review

In Newcastle on a Saturday night, Girls Aloud are playing the third night in a three-night opener for their reunion tour, Ten: The Hits. The Geordie massive may well think they’re here to see the quintet, but, judging by the …

Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 07:30

   

In Newcastle on a Saturday night, Girls Aloud are playing the third night in a three-night opener for their reunion tour, Ten: The Hits. The Geordie massive may well think they’re here to see the quintet, but, judging by the screams, all they care about is Cole, Geordie girl done good, the mega star who never lost her accent.

The Girls have reunited after a significant break to mark the 10th anniversary of their foundation, on Popstars: The Rivals, a show that produced this five-piece girl group and Javine Hilton, who most people thought would emerge the superstar. Au contraire, the Girls racked up numerous top 10 hits, four number one singles and captured the hearts of a large majority of that crucial (at least in the world of pop) 15-to-25 age bracket.

In Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, the Girls are on form; far from the miming of their early days, this show is a slick production, with live vocals that are only ever so shaky, with just one song suffering as a result of a Harding-sung harmony line that never quite gets where it wants to go. As ever, Coyle is the Mariah Carey wannabe, pouting and powerhousing her way through, with the odd fluttering hand gesture; Cole is the coquettish sex kitten with the husky vocals and propensity for adding “Newcastle” into every sentence; Harding, though she gets a few show ponies to add to her repertoire, is largely ambling confusedly in the background; Walsh is “sassy” (hateful word) and enthusiastic, but mostly forgettable; while Roberts is the only one of the five with the dignity (or perhaps the smarts) to look slightly embarrassed and, at times, amused by the whole debacle.

While the vocals are strong and the dancing is well choreographed, if not overly energetic (allowing the Girls to sing as well as dance – except for Coyle, who is a one-trick pony of sorts and trots rather than dances) the worrying thing about Girls Aloud is in their lack of individualism. From a distance, they are difficult to tell apart from one another – it’s all big hair, tiny waists and revealing clothing. Where the Spice Girls had their distinguishing characters (however limiting Baby, Scary, Ginger, Sporty and Posh may have been as monikers), the appeal of the Girls seems to be in their very doll-like appearances. At points, they appear to strut around the stage like marionettes, with a slight tug on their strings eliciting movement, eyelash flutters, hair flicks.

For the finale (above), the Girls morph into five identical Jessica Rabbits, the cartoon woman who stole Bob Hoskins’ heart in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It can be no coincidence that they are embodying one of the world’s most famous sex symbols, a woman in “toon” form. Jessica put it best herself when she said: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

Whatever way Girls Aloud are drawn, they give good pop concert. Their on-stage prowess is not in question, but as we watched the hordes of teenage girls make their way out into the cold Newcastle night, I couldn’t help but wonder what message they took from their hour and a half watching five of the world’s most famous women morph into a cartoon sex symbol.

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