I am, and forever will be a 90s kid. Yes, true, I was born right on the cusp, but Saturday morning with my older cousins huddled over the TV gave me a very early appreciation for music. I also think you can tell a lot about a person by their early CD collection. For me, one of the first CDs I held in my hot little hands was hit machine 14, an absolute banger of a compilation CD with hits from the Fugees, The Presidents of the United States and Garbage. It was just before mainstream 90s moved away from grunge and onto the sugar coated pop that dominated the generation. Girl Bands, Boy Bands, and electro fuelled bounce pop provided the perfect backdrop to every choreographed recess. For a lot of people, that sound was the soundtrack to the best days of their lives, and despite the fact that I’ve since returned to my grunge/punk beginnings, it was kind of the soundtrack to mine too. Because I forgot to mention, amongst that early CD collection, was a bright orange number, with four girls from Ireland providing the soundtrack to my youth, and last night, this 90s kid reviewer got to make heart eyes at nostalgia and literally get jiggy with it.
Arriving just in time to see East 17 moving about on stage, after initially mistaking one of the members for Mr Worldwide, I’ll admit I was really impressed. Not just by the performance on stage, but mostly by the vibe of the crowd. Despite the last 20 years stealing/swapping members, the crowd loved every single minute of it. This may not have been the boy band that graced the walls of teenagers, but oh hot damn it sure sounded like them. But it wasn’t really until the deliciously sensual mist of the piano began that those other than the hardcore fans recognised the greats in front of them. And they really were… Alright. I mean really alright.
As the night progressed, my anticipation became much more pronounced, as the soundtrack left the early 90s, and progressed forward to a few more names I’m sure we could all recognise. During the late 90s, S Club 7 were this incredible bright and shiny force that filled TV screens, radio stations, and of course the Discmans of the youth. But like some of us, perhaps the blissful smokescreen of nostalgia was a little too much. Down to only three members, (which last night turned into two) the remaining performers really did give everything they had, but for two members to fill the space of a usual seven, is a tall ask for any performer. Crowd members were pulled on stage, with some surprised at just how well they remembered the lyrics (and dance moves) making the performance a much more interactive experience. The thing that really surprised me the most though, is that most punters didn’t really seem to care. People were just simply excited to hear and celebrate the music of their generation, and backing track or not, S Club 2 was still a success in that respect.
I have to take the time to give a personal shout out to Kerry from Atomic Kitten. Her banter on stage was absolutely phenomenal and I would happily shout you a beer any time. They were relaxed, comfortable, and gave the performance of the Atomic Kitten of today, striking the perfect balance between nostalgia and expectation. Despite Kerry proclaiming “I am getting too old for this shhhhh” the vocals were on point, exceptional actually, and they relaxed into the performance as seasoned professionals.
In between sets, NEX turned into a school disco, but with fewer flasks of Midori and teachers who had drawn the short straw. The DJ basically hit the nail on the head when he proclaimed, “It will be hit after hit tonight, it’s the best music from your life”. Personally, I’ve never EVER heard Barbie Girl played at that volume before to the point where I literally could feel ‘Ken’s’ vocals through my feet.
And then it happened. The lights went dim, the crowd huddled together, (I’m also sure one young girl started crying with excitement – was it me? I don’t even know…) and the Irish music began.
Here they were, well at least three out of the four original members, the girls from Ireland, appearing with as much pizazz, denim and bounce as they would have 20 years ago and honestly… I cannot fault their performance. At all. They not only gave the crowd what they wanted, but they seemed to really love every single minute. Edele and Keavy honestly haven’t aged a day, and as they cranked out hits like “Jessie Hold On” and “Rollercoaster” I was suddenly back in my bedroom following the lyrics word for word.
Sprinkling their set with some new tunes from the accurately named “Champagne or Guinness” which at times gave their original hits a solid run for their money. Seizing every opportunity to captivate the crowd, the trio disappeared off stage, in the blink of an eye. One punter’s jaw hit the floor as he exclaimed “but what about that song… you know” … until suddenly the docile Irish tones rang through the room once again with an apparent “Oh I think there’s one song missing don’t you think?”. And that was the point where my heart shattered into a million pieces, bursting with happiness. I couldn’t give in anymore and suddenly my fist was in the air, I was jumping in choreographed unison and… C’est La Vie! Almost 20 years after its release… here, in front of my eyes, the denim clad Irish gals brought my childhood to life. The performance had everything punters had always wanted. Irish Jigging, the vocal interludes (“what do ya like”) and from the bottom of my heart thank you thank you.
So… A success? This 90s revival tour? Absolutely.