Express & Star

Review: Girls Aloud, LG Arena, Birmingham

Skin-tight costumes, sky-high bouffants, spectacular stage effects and the most talked about new tattoo in the country - Girls Aloud are back. And they're back with a bang at that.


It may have been 10 years since the girls burst on to the scene when they were thrust together as the fresh-faced winners of Popstars: The Rivals.

But, despite a few years out of the spotlight as a fivesome, these pop sirens have certainly not lost any of their sparkle when it comes to entertaining a crowd.

If anything their years away from the Girls Aloud machine, which has allowed them to take on their own solo challenges and combat their personal demons, has given them a whole new lease of life and during last night's concert at the LG Arena they sounded better than ever.

Backed up by a fabulous array of athletic dancers plus some dazzling lighting and special effects Cheryl, Kimberley, Nicola, Sarah and Nadine did not fail to please the packed-out venue.

From the Sound of the Underground to the more recent Something New, the band performed 20 consecutive top 10 hits, including four number ones, in near-chronological order, interacting with the buoyant crowd at any chance they got.

The tour is named Girls Aloud's Ten: The Hits and, being the girls' first outing in four years, little expense was spared when planning the budget for the much-anticipated show.

Four sets of costumes for the girls, a moving aerial platform and huge confetti cannons were among the show's impressive features, not to mention Cheryl Cole's new rose tattoo on the lower section of her back.

Last night's musical feast kicked off with X Factor finalist Amelia Lily, who was supporting the girl group just four years after watching them in concert. She worked up the crowd with an acoustic session before finishing with her number 2 single You Bring Me Joy.

After she left, the crowd could not contain its excitement and cheers rang out every time there was movement in the large black pieces of fabric covering the stage.

Finally, after 40 minutes wait, the girls emerged – and the crowd were not to be disappointed.

Following a countdown and a short video of the girls on the television screens, the curtain suddenly dropped to reveal the five girls standing on a glittering aerial platform high above the front stage to the Sound of the Underground – the band's first hit in 2002.

Dressed in silver and black glistening short skirts, the girls looked like they had hardly aged as they dazzled the waving crowd below - with Nadine joking about using a good moisturiser.

Next, after being lowered to the stage, they performed No Good Advice, showing they still had the ability to dance, bumping and grinding with their male dancers in front of shooting flames on stage.

Back together and reunited on stage, any hints of past spats were left firmly in the past as the girls shared jokes and banter about growing older since their early days.

Following the ballad Life Got Cold, the girls next showed their rock chick side to Wake Me Up, before hitting the hard beats of Jump.

By now, everyone in the crowd was on their feet, swaying to every beat and singing along to the catchy songs, as Cheryl shouted: "It's good to be back."

The five girls rushed away for five minutes before returning laced up in Victoria Style costumes, full of feathers and glitter.

Nicola wore an Native American wig, Cheryl and Kim performed complete with angel wings, Nadine with a feather-shaped heart on her back and Kimberley as a butterfly.

They began to get emotional, singing Whole Lotta History, before returning to their typical pop style with hits Can't Speak French and Biology – the last song combined with a dance routine around wooden stools.

Cue another change of costume – this time into blue skirts covered with white roping and bright pink shoes.

After boarding the aerial platform the girls were moved to a stage in the centre of the arena before a mad dash through the crowd which allowed their fans to get a closer look.

More hits followed, including Something Kinda Ooooh and Call Me Maybe, before golden confetti was fired over the crowd.

Of course, the crowd weren't going to let the girls just walk away after such a show-stopping performance and the girls re-emerged in sparkling long red dresses for an encore, finishing off with I'll Stand By You and The Promise.

It was one of the most hotly-anticipated shows of recent months, and old and young all agreed that the spectacle was worth the wait.

Among those in the crowd was Ali Coey-Archer, aged 29, who was attending her sixth Girls Aloud concert with friend Melanie Vassallo, 28, also from Wolverhampton.

Miss Coey-Archer, a mortgage administrator from Martin Street in Wolverhampton, said: "I love coming back because the shows are so much fun.

"I most enjoy the music and the atmosphere of each concert – I dragged my friend along this time."

Teachers Beverly Brazier, 34, of Wolverhampton, and Kerry Prosser, 33, of Sutton Coldfield also decided to go to the event having been fans of the group since they were formed.

Mrs Prosser said: "This was our turn to have some fun."

Elaine Mould, 39, of Park Field, Wolverhampton, and Alison Carrington, 39, of Wood Cross, Cannock went to see the event as an early 40th birthday present for themselves.

Mrs Mould said: "We missed out four years ago so we were determined to make it this time.

"I think we were both looking forward to seeing the costumes, hearing the music and generally having some fun together."

Alex Ross

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