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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 12:34 GMT
Spice mania returns for reunion
By Heather Alexander
BBC News, Vancouver

Spice Girls
The costumes are by flamboyant Italian designer Roberto Cavalli

Thousands of excited fans greeted the Spice Girls as they embarked on their first concert since splitting up nine years ago.

The fans were bursting at the prospect of seeing the five girls reunited, screaming at the empty stage well before the show was due to start.

It looked like this night had been a long time coming for many of them.

"We travelled all the way from Seattle in the snow to see them - it was a four-hour drive," said one girl.

Her friend added: "I've been waiting all my life for this day - I never got to see them in concert when I was younger.

"Their songs are classics - I still know all the words - I was so sad when they ended."

Others came in groups of five, wearing outfits made for the occasion - there were plenty of Union Jack dresses like Geri's famous outfit from the 1997 Brit Awards.

David turned up today, he hasn't been at any of the rehearsals - I'm nervous about what he's gonna think about the show
Victoria Beckham talking before the show
TV crews got the easiest and most lively crowd shots they've ever had as no-one could keep a lid on the fans' enthusiasm.

They sang songs as they lined up to buy T-shirts at the merchandise stands and "girl power" hand signs were shoved into camera lenses at every turn.

And as the frenzy continued, backstage the Spice Girls were preening themselves in preparation for the show and talking to the press.

In front of a Spice Girls backdrop, they bunched together to tell the world how pleased they were to be together and how much they were looking forward to spending the next three months on tour.

They said rumours they didn't get on were untrue. "No-one's perfect - it's like a marriage - you have to be open," Geri said.

Geri Halliwell and Victoria Beckham
Geri and Victoria say it's "rubbish" that they don't get on
"It's just one of those things that people have said from day one that we argue all the time and we fight all the time," added Victoria.

Geri agreed: "They always say that about me and Victoria and that's a load of rubbish."

Mel C joined in: "Listen, you've seen Spice World the movie, right? We're not Oscar-winning actresses are we, do you know what I mean? It's obvious we get on."

David Beckham flew in from New Zealand especially for the concert and bought each of the girls a gold bracelet.

He sneaked in while the interviews were going on, doing no press himself - this was not his moment, after all.

"David turned up today. He hasn't been at any of the rehearsals - I'm nervous about what he's going to think about the show," Victoria said.

"He's been in it since the beginning, and Jade - Emma's boyfriend - has been there since the start," said Geri.

"A few others have come and gone along the way but they have lasted. Well done those two."

"David feels like he's married to all five of us," joked Victoria.

So to the show itself.

Spice Girls
The girls delighted fans with all the old hits and a no-expense-spared show
They were almost on time. The lights went up for Spice Up Your Life just after 8pm.

It was a night for nostalgia, so all the old hits came out. Stop was followed by Say You'll Be There, which was almost drowned out by more screaming.

This crowd was serious - they knew all the moves to Stop and weren't shy about showing it.

Dancers hand-picked by Victoria and Mel B in LA added to the amazing costumes and choreography.

No expense had been spared. Flamboyant Italian designer Roberto Cavalli created the costumes and the dance moves came from Madonna's people.

It was a night to remember why the Spice Girls were so successful. They had great songs and notched up nine UK number ones and sold tens of millions of albums worldwide.

Despite all that's happened to them individually since they broke up, the Spice Girls as a unit are still a phenomenon. Just ask the 750,000 who have bought tickets.

And they're also a cash cow - they'll earn about 10m each from this tour - not bad for three months' work.

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