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Girls Aloud The O2 London live review

Girls Aloud put on a show that truly celebrates their hit-filled career.

Beautiful 'Cause You Love Me - Girls Aloud
Credit: Simon Wisbey

Girls Aloud announced their plans to reunite last autumn marking the 10th anniversary since their Popstars: The Rivals victory. After the release of Untouchable in 2009, the last single from their chart-topping album Out of Control, the group took a break to pursue their own projects and have a breather. What was intended as a 12-month break turned into nearly 4 years and it was becoming increasingly unlikely we’d ever seen the group together again. Thankfully they have reunited for a UK arena tour in support of their 2012 greatest hits collection Ten.

Buzz around the shows suggests this is the last time Girls Aloud will tour as a group. Does this mean they’re going to split? At the moment it’s unclear but don’t be surprised if you see them again in a few years. Last night the group performed their second sold-out date at London’s O2 Arena supported by former X Factor star Amelia Lily. Arriving on stage at 8.50pm, Girls Aloud were lowered down onto the stage on a platform bearing their name in glitter on the front. The opening number was the group’s 2002 debut single Sound of the Underground.

The setlist for the evening consisted of the majority of their singles with the group surprising fans by performing early singles No Good Advice and Life Got Cold, two tracks that have largely been ignored by the group in their live shows. There was only one new cover over the course of the evening and that was a hit-and-miss rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s chart hit Call Me Maybe. Some singles were omitted (Long Hot Summer, See The Day, I Think We’re Alone Now and The Loving Kind) but we guess they couldn’t perform every one!

The Hits Tour had all the classic elements of a Girls Aloud arena show. The energy from all five girls was high (even Cheryl who was battling the flu Kimberley announced) and they slipped back into their Girls Aloud roles with ease. The set was surprisingly simple consisting of a video screen, stairs and coloured strips either side of the stage. In the middle of the show the girls are transported above the audience on a platform and lowered to a second stage in the middle of the arena to perform several songs.

Throughout the show the girls were backed by male and female dancers giving their performance a grander feel. Our only slight gripe is that for a potential farewell tour it didn’t feel as grand or spectacular as the girls have been teasing. Perhaps our expectations were too high or maybe this isn’t their final hurrah?

Highlights over the show included a storming rendition of recent single Something New, a solid performance of Girls Aloud classic Call The Shots and a vocally impressive performance of Whole Lotta History. New track On the Metro was the most high-energy number of the evening and indicates the sound Girls Aloud would pursue if they do go on to make another album.

For the encore the girls returned to the stage in beautiful red dresses to sing their number 1 cover of The Pretenders’ I’ll Stand By You. As Cheryl thanked the fans for their support you could see the group were fighting back tears. The final song of the evening was The Promise, one of the group’s biggest and best-loved hits.

Vocally the girls pulled it off for the most part. Nadine delivered the most consistent vocals as you’d expect with Cheryl and Kimberley nailing theirs. Nicola was the surprise of the evening sporting a stronger, richer and more powerful voice than we’ve heard from her before. In her years off from Girls Aloud it appears she’s found her confidence. She shined on the ballad Beautiful ‘Cause You Love Me and her vocals on all the tracks were injected with her new-found vocal power.

The weak link of the evening vocally was Sarah. When she was singing her parts as recorded she sounded fine but all too often she moved into screeching territory. At times she was trying to harmonise with Nadine but it felt more like she was trying to upstage her. Sarah isn’t the strongest vocalist in the band but clearly she thinks she’s more capable than she is. During parts of the show Sarah seemed to be having her own little party breaking formation with the other four girls and hollering down her microphone.

Overall though Girls Aloud put on a fantastic show delivering all the hits we wanted to hear. It was a joy to see the five of them back together and doing what they do best. They clearly enjoyed the show as much as we did with smiles beaming from their faces. As they left the stage Sarah teased ‘we’ll be back’ so maybe they will continue on past this tour. If they don’t then the pop world is going to be a very dull place without them.

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