Pop superstars Steps capped off their return to the music spotlight when they raised the roof off Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall.
Thousands of screaming fans crammed into the venue last night to see Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer, Ian ‘H’ Watkins and Lee Latchford-Evans belt out songs old and new.
Fans donned festive Christmas jumpers, flashing lights and waved floppy foam hands throughout the performance, as the group declared Wolverhampton was the best gig yet.
The band, who stepped back into the spotlight six months ago after a 10-year hiatus, were afforded the sort of standing ovation from the packed crowd that would have left many wondering why they ever called it a day in the first place.
Among those at last night’s gig was cleaner Tracey Hipkiss, 34, from the Yew Tree estate in Walsall, who had a specially-made Steps number plate made up for last night’s gig. “It cost me about £15. I’ve got one for Kylie as well,” she said.
Tracey, who was at the event with her mother, 63-year-old Joan, added: “This was the third time I have seen Steps. They’re just lots of fun.
They’re a bit cheesy but it is good fun. Every time I have seen them I have always really enjoyed myself.”
Also there was 31-year-old Neil Ward, from Bilbrook, and his friend, Heidi Krzyszowski, aged 32, who have seen Steps together more than 30 times.
The former Codsall High School pupils even won a competition in March 1999 to see their idols perform. Neil said: “Our friendship started out with Steps,” said Neil. “We love them and we love going to see them. It is just a lot of fun.”
Also enjoying the long list of Steps hits was 28-year-old Jamie Carson, 28, and his friend Sara Addison, 34. The pair travelled from Nuneaton for the gig.
Jamie said he had been a fan of the group ever since he was a young boy and that news of their split in 2001 had hit him hard. “It was devastating and it ruined my world,” he said. “I came home and ripped everything down off my walls.”
Both Jamie and Sara donned festive Christmas jumpers for last night’s gig after Jamie received a personal message directly from Claire on Twitter. He added: “We both love Claire and she told me to wear a Christmas jumper to the gig. We’ve sent her a picture of us in our jumpers.”
What the army of fans were treated to last night was a stripped back Steps performance that has been built on the success of the band’s recent sell-out tour. There was no army of dancers, extravagant sets and costumes; just intimate lighting, elegant ball gowns, suits and a live band.
They burst onto the stage to a song from their new album, Light Up The World, and during the first half of the gig went on to play a blend of older and more well-known tracks such as After The Love Has Gone, Say You’ll be Mine and The Way You Make Me Feel. Following the interval, the band changed into wintry gold and white outfits, while a Christmas tree and vintage sofas set the scene for a question and answer session.
Classic ballads Heartbeat and Words Are Not Enough got the crowd on their feet, while the biggest screams of the night came when the band returned to sing Tragedy.