Incredibly, 23 years have passed since the Spice Girls burst onto the charts with their debut single Wannabe. That song went on to top the charts in 37 countries and was the start of an incredible, and very fast, rise to global fame for the fivesome. Number one after number one followed and two huge selling albums – 1996’s Spice and 1997’s SpiceWorld – before Geri Halliwell departed from the group in 1998 to pursue a solo career. The four remaining members – Melanie B, Melanie C, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham – continued for another two years releasing one more album and touring extensively. After years apart, the group reunited in 2007 for a tour in the UK and the US, and then in 2012 they got together once again to perform at the Olympics closing ceremony.
Since then speculation has been rife about the group embarking on another tour. Things started to look promising in 2016 but both Victoria and Melanie C were reluctant to commit to touring. Melanie B, Emma and Geri attempted to get things moving as a trio to mark the 20th anniversary of Spice but that didn’t come to anything following Geri’s pregnancy. Still the rumours persisted and in 2018 it was finally announced that the Spice Girls would be embarking on a stadium tour but without Victoria, who wanted to concentrate on her fashion empire.
A handful of stadium dates were announced and they all sold out within minutes. The Spice World 2019 UK and Ireland tour was extended to include 13 dates, and support act Jess Glynn, and for the past few weeks the Spice Girls have been performing to sold out crowds. Last night they performed their second Wembley Stadium show, which was also the penultimate night of the tour. As I arrived at Wembley Stadium last night, it was all a little overwhelming seeing the excitement from Spice Girls fans old and new, many of which were dressed as their favourite member of the group.
Ahead of the Spice Girls arriving on stage, their dancers (or Houses as I should say) made their way on stage to get the audience excited. Each Spice Girl had their own House of five dancers, dressed in a style that related to them. At 8.30pm the Spice Girls popped out onto the stage on a platform at the front of the catwalk section and kicked off the night with Spice Up Your Life. There’s been much made about alleged poor sound quality on this tour but last night the sound was crystal clear, and from where I was sitting I could hear every single word they sang and said.
The audience sang along for the entire night and the atmosphere at Wembley Stadium was incredible. The Spice Girls clearly fed off that energy, giving it their all on stage as they worked their way through all their hits and some fan favourite album tracks. Spice Up Your Life was followed up with If U Can’t Dance and a very energetic version of Who Do You Think You Are. As a lifelong Spice Girls fan it was a real joy to see the four members interacting with one another, joking and just enjoying being together. During Something Kinda Funny, Melanie B kept trying to put Emma off and frequently throughout the night the women held hands, embraced each other and hugged.
There were a series of costume changes throughout the 2-hour set. The first one came ahead of a mash-up of Holler and Sound Off. Costume designer Gabriella Slade did an incredible job honouring some of the Spice Girls classic looks and putting a modern twist on them. The most memorable was Geri’s infamous Union Jack dress, which was turned into a regal gown. For Viva Forever, Let Love Lead the Way and Goodbye the group wore flowing dresses as they glided around on stage and sang their parts. They looked incredible!
It would be remiss of me to not mention the fantastic set design. In the middle of the stage was a globe with a ring around it, paying homage to the classic Spice ring, which played video throughout the night, showed photos and displayed lyrics. The two huge video screens on either side allowed fans at the back to better see the group and also had lyrics on it throughout as well as some special effects during the performances. The main stage extended to a u-shaped catwalk with various platforms so the Spice Girls could get on and off stage throughout the night.
Highlights included an emotional rendition of Goodbye, with Geri singing Victoria’s parts, an uptempo section that featured fan favourite Never Give Up on the Good Times, a cover of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (nodding back to their first tours) and Spice album track Love Thing. The jazzy The Lady is a Vamp sounded amazing and worked really well in a stadium setting. Say You’ll Be There turned into an acapella singalong and Emma wowed with an impressive sustained note during 2 Become 1.
After their final costume change and a moving segment featuring the four women talking about one another and being a Spice Girl, the group returned to sing Stop and the beautiful and emotive Mama. After that song they took off their jackets and coats to reveal costumes that looked very similar to those they wore in the iconic Wannabe video. The audience erupted into cheers as the group launched into their signature hit and during the rap part Geri changed the words from ‘Easy V doesn’t come for free, she’s a real lady, to ‘Easy V doesn’t come for free, where is she?’ which was a nice little touch.
As fireworks erupted and the Spice Girls said their thank yous and goodbyes, the stadium was full of buzz and noise from over 70,000 fans having had the night of their lives. I enjoyed their reunion tour in 2007 but this latest jaunt was more satisfying. Putting all of the emphasis on the hits, and removing the solo sections that bogged down the last tour, the Spice Girls crafted the perfect thank you to fans and celebrated their enduring legacy. I left Wembley Stadium feeling fulfilled, happy and a little bit emotional. Thank you for a great night Ginger, Sporty, Baby and Scary – let’s do it again soon!
Set list: 1. Spice Up Your Life 2. If U Can’t Dance 3. Who Do You Think You Are 4. Do It 5. Something Kinda Funny 6. Holler / Sound Off 7. Viva Forever 8. Let Love Lead the Way 9. Goodbye 10. Never Give Up on the Good Times 11. We Are Family (Sister Sledge cover) 12. Love Thing 13. The Lady is a Vamp 14. Too Much 15. Say You’ll Be There 16. 2 Become 1 17. Stop 18. Mama 19. Wannabe Performance date: 14th June 2019