Girls Aloud, O2 Arena, London


Pop queens fulfil their promise

Well, it isn't the most auspicious of starts. As the opening bars to the recent number-one single, "The Promise", play out, Kimberley, Sarah, Nadine and Nicola gracefully rise out of the floor on individual hydraulic podiums and into the air wearing some magnificent white gowns. Cheryl Cole, however, is left peering out over the stage, her platform evidently experiencing some sort of mechanical failure. Ever the professionals, the girls carry on, with the Vogue cover star and FHM's recently crowned "sexiest woman in the world" doing her solo with just the top of her face showing. Of course, this only makes the crowd love Cheryl even more.

Cheryl favouritism aside (she gets the loudest screams for her solos all night), Girls Aloud are an impressive package. That rare breed of commercial and critical success, they're the manufactured pop band that it's OK to like. Twenty consecutive Top Ten singles, two Number One albums and a recent Brit Award for Best British Single all point to them being one of the most successful girl bands this country has ever seen.

It is, perhaps, an older crowd than expected at London's O2. While there are hundreds of little girls in pink cowboy hats, accompanied by Dad, of course ("no, darling, I insist: I'll take the girls to the concert"), the majority of the audience is made up of twenty- and thirtysomething women, and the arena in danger of descending into one giant, hellish hen party.

The set itself is merciless as outfit changes and routines come at you so fast, it's hard to keep up. The show is roughly divided into four sections, each with its own look: glam, retro, dominatrix and street. Some of the dance routines are impressive but they can get a bit repetitive. There are only so many times the girls can do their signature move of striking different poses in unison before it looks a bit boring. And it doesn't help that five giant screens behind them continually show the girls, well, striking different poses in unison. Their other favourite move appears to be bending over with a cheeky face that says, "oops, can you see my knickers?" Hardly anything too inspired. Some of the set pieces are so tacky as to be laughable. Their dominatrix look and dance routines accompanied by blindfolded topless hunks has the air of that really appalling fantasy art featuring busty babes on unicorns once found in Athena.

Nonetheless, they have more than enough impressive tricks to delight. Flying over the audience on a platform throwing gold glitter seems enough of a gimmick to satiate even the hardest to please in the audience. And the two- hour show reminds you of the staggering number of great pop songs in their back catalogue.

However, even with the slick production and frenzied costume changes, the crowd appear to be a little reserved for a pop concert. Sure, they all scream when they're asked to but it never turns into the one big party one might have expected. Their two best hits, "Biology" and "Something Kinda Ooh", get everyone dancing, but it's the endless playing out of lesser-known tracks off the latest album, Out of Control, that seems to be suppressing the crowd.

Some of their biggest hits are relegated to one-minute snippets in the megamix encore, including "No Good Advice", "Can't Speak French" and "Jump (For My Love)" that the crowd goes crazy for. Perhaps they would have been wise to play these out in full, rather than unfamiliar and lacklustre album tracks such as "Rolling Back the Rivers in Time" and "Love Is Pain". Covers of James Morrison's "Broken Strings" and Britney's "Womanizer" get the crowd going too, suggesting that everyone just wants songs that they can sing along to. Still, it's a most entertaining night out and the five girls make it look like they might have the most fun job in the world. Let's hope there's no truth in those pesky rumours of splitting for solo careers. For together, they are quite a sight.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'