“Better left in the past” – S Club 7 at The O2

“Please no bloody S Club, Dan!” my flatmate bellows across the landing; this is the call I am faced with every time I am entrusted with creating the playlist for a night out.

I genuinely can’t help it, though. I’d been waiting for an S Club reunion for 12 years, and drunkenly performed their hits countless times; honestly believing I was in the group.

I don’t think I can have been the only heterosexual male who can say the child in them died and went to heaven when the ‘Bring It All Back’ tour was announced at the tail-end of 2014.

And when the eagerly-anticipated moment finally arrived, the opening was electrifying; each member sprung up through their own hole in the stage before launching into modernised versions of ‘Bring the House Down’ and ‘S Club Party’; Bradley McIntosh was looking in better shape – Paul Cattermole not so much. I genuinely felt like I was 8 again – and I loved it.

But that was about as good as it got.

The show spiralled into an underwhelming 40-minute spell littered with unnecessary breaks between songs and awkward conversations with the crowd, starting with Tina Barrett.

Barrett – the supposed ‘mastermind’ of the reunion – and a whiney performance of ‘Stronger’, did nothing to prove her vocal credentials other than signalling a mass sitting-down of the audience. Her introduction left many cringing:

“I’ve got a really funny story for you. Basically, it was 1998; Paul and some of the others came to my flat in Hammersmith. Paul got really drunk, tripped over and ripped my curtains. I never got a replacement”.

SPARSE: The O2 crowd was patchy leading up to the start.
SPARSE: The O2 crowd was worryingly patchy leading up to the start.

The show continued in its unorthodox nature as each member of the group was treated as an individual artist, becoming bizarre when the evergreen Rachel Stevens took to the stage to perform two tracks from her short-lived solo career.

Paul’s emotional acoustic rendition of ‘Reach’ had the crowd singing in perfect unison and Hannah Spearitt’s energetic version of Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’ would have been more impressive were it not mimed.

Simply put, the performance just didn’t flow.

The group’s two strongest voices – Jo O’Meara and Jon Lee – collaborated on the beautifully honest “Hello Friend” which only helped to lower the arena’s falling morale even further.

In an attempt to revive the show, Bradley appeared with a mock-DJ deck and threw it back to the ‘Miami 7’ TV show that catapulted S Club into the spotlight.

But what did he actually do? Played unknown tracks and spent four precious minutes of my life introducing irrelevant dancers.

The group released 11 singles during their five years together, but sadly had so few hits they resorted – oddly – to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”, before launching into their heartfelt final single, “Say Goodbye”, flanked by a black and white photomontage of the group in their heyday.

I will give them their due as the finish was memorable, with ‘Reach’, ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ and ‘Don’t Stop Movin’’. But, to my utmost disappointment, I can honestly say I had a better time when S Club 3 came to my university in 2012.

That was mad. Sending me back to my childhood and dangling the carrot of a then-impossible full reunion. But wasn’t what I had expected, this was – at times – amateurish.

My flatmates can still expect to be complaining about my song choices before a night out, but, as much as it pains me to say it, I can’t help but think S Club 7 was a concept better left in the past.



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