Spice Girls in Sunderland: First review as girl power dazzles 50,000 at Stadium of Light

Five may have become four in this Spice Girls tour, but the band, minus Posh’s signature point and pout, still managed to give the crowds what they really, really wanted.

Spice World at Stadium of Light
Spice World at Stadium of Light

It’s 23 years since the pioneering pop band burst on to radio airwaves (no iTunes back then), but tonight’s gig at the Stadium of Light showed that they are still very much flying the flag for girl power.

Their adoring fan base, once teenage girls teetering about in platform shoes with bunches in their hair, may be grown women now but they were soon transported back to the days of drinking from a Spice Girls Pepsi can and collecting stickers in their Panini album with a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

After the lively crowds were warmed up with Jess Glynne who, despite having little audience interaction, impressed with strong vocals on her vast back catalogue of hits such as Thursday, These Days and Take Me Home it was time for Ginger, Sporty, Baby and Scary to spice up the night.

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    Comeback tours often just rely on nostalgia to entertain the masses, but The Spice Girls put on a real show with high production values and fireworks from the start with opening number Spice Up Your Life and a slick set featuring an ever changing globe of graphics.

    Staying true to the personas which made them household names, the costumes were fabulously individual: Geri resplendent in regal dresses hinting at her Union Flag dress, Baby mostly in girly pink frocks, Scary looking spectacular in leopard print and Sporty in rhinestone sports luxe wear.

    Despite reports of sound glitches on earlier dates on the tour, there didn’t seem to be any such problems as the four-piece worked their way through their pop classics, with Mel C displaying the strongest singing voice. No change there then.

    Spice World at Stadium of Light

    All the school disco classics were there: Who Do You Think You Are, Viva Forever, Holler, Say You Will Be There, 2 Become 1, Stop and, of course Wannabe.

    The gaps between the hits were filled with covers of disco classics such as Car Wash and Never Give Up on The Good Times during which wristbands given to the crowd sprung to life and turned the Stadium of Light into a pulsating glitter ball.

    As you’d expect from a band so well-known for their outspokenness, there was plenty of audience interaction as the girls reminisced about the first time they met at a train station and piled into Geri’s Fiat Uno. It’s probably a story they tell every night on the tour, but it was delivered with genuine warmth.

    50,000 attended Spice World at Stadium of Light

    Costume changes also came thick and fast to give fans their money’s worth, with racy PVC numbers for a military-themed Holler, preceded by the chant “We know how we got this far. Strength and courage in a Wonder Bra”, before switching to more ethereal, floaty gowns for the melancholy Viva Forever and Goodbye, which followed some good-humoured banter between Geri and Mel B about the former’s departure from the band.

    A very energetic army of Spice dancers also wowed the crowds during costume changes, giving a seamless flow to the show.

    Although the Spice Girls don’t have as many hits as say Take That, those they do have in their arsenal have got real sing-a-long-ability and finale songs Stop and Wannabe had everyone in the crowd, which was more than 80 percent female, reliving their youth and hollering as yet more fireworks shot into the Sunderland skyline.

    Fans make their way to the Stadium of Light for the Spice Girls. Picture by FRANK REID
    Mel B on stage