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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 December 2007, 11:15 GMT
Spice Girls celebrate homecoming
The Spice Girls

By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter

The reformed Spice Girls have kicked off the UK leg of their world tour with a sell-out concert at the O2 Arena in London.

In the end, it all went as well as anyone could have hoped.

Performing together on home soil for the first time in almost a decade, the reunited Spice Girls put on a slick, colourful and energetic display.

Apparently untroubled by the sprained ankle that saw her fly into Heathrow on crutches, Emma Bunton did not excuse herself from the group's fairly undemanding dance routines.

Spice Girls
The group are playing 17 dates in London as part of a world tour
Even Victoria Beckham managed a smile or two - mostly directed at husband David and her three sons, who were seated close to the stage at the former Millennium Dome.

In their rather underwhelming careers as solo artists, Posh, Sporty, Scary et al seemed keen to discard those reductive nicknames and the iconography that went with them.

Now they have reformed for a world tour, however, nostalgia is very much the order of the day.

Melanie Chisholm's tracksuit, Melanie Brown's leopard-skin outfits and Geri Halliwell's Union Jack skirt have all been dragged out of the closet.

So has the group's jaunty back catalogue of perky, exuberant and annoyingly catchy pop songs.


Geri Halliwell
Each member got a solo spot. Geri Halliwell sang It's Raining Men
Appearing from beneath the stage on five ascending rostra, the gold-clad quintet kicked off their 100-minute concert with samba-tinged hit Spice Up Your Life.

Stop and Say You'll Be There followed in quick succession, with Beckham's few vocal contributions eliciting the loudest cheers.

Was she miming, as has been alleged? One would probably need to be as close as Brooklyn, Cruz or Romeo to know for sure.

It was perhaps revealing, however, that she was the only one of the five not to sing a solo number - treating the audience instead to a tongue-in-cheek march down an imaginary catwalk.

As a group the Spice Girls were always greater than the sum of their parts. Hardly surprising then, that, these individual turns were the weakest points of the evening.

Bunton's rendition of her retro track Maybe was acceptable, while Melanie C performed her UK number one I Turn To You with gutsy gusto.

Spice Girls fans
Fans dressed up as their idols for the gig
But it would take more than a scarlet leotard to galvanise Halliwell's lacklustre cover of the Weather Girls' It's Raining Men.


Having plucked a young man out of the audience to serenade with Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way, meanwhile, Melanie B did not seem to know what to do with him.

An awkward tango routine with their tireless male backing dancers during 1998 ballad Viva Forever marked another, literal misstep.

For the most part, however, it was hard to fault a show as polished and professional as any the band staged in their '90s heyday.

Mel B
The band have a creche backstage for their seven children
The girls even found an elegant way to acknowledge Halliwell's early departure from the line-up, having her discreetly descend from view as her bandmates sang their Geri-less track Holler.

And like all good entertainers they left the best to last - a rousing rendition of their debut hit Wannabe that had the O2's capacity crowd on its feet.

Yes, the banter felt scripted and the group hug forced. The Spice Girls would not have got this far, though, without being able to simulate a convincing facade of unity.

It is their ability to laugh at themselves, however, that might be their most appealing feature - a characteristic typified by Geri and Mel B's mock catfight over a ginger wig thrown onto the stage.

Will their reunion be a case of hair today, gone tomorrow? Only time will tell. But they sure made the Dome feel like home.

Spice Girls on stage at the O2 Arena in London

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