Everywhere you look there are pre-teen girls in saucy off-the-shoulder numbers. For reasons that quickly become clear, the dads are turning a blind eye and have even volunteered to accompany their offspring to tonight's gig. Issues surrounding their daughters' dubious dress sense melt away the minute Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams appear on stage.
Annoyingly, Destiny's Child aren't just pretty faces. The trio have made some of the coolest, catchiest, most thrillingly vital pop songs of the past few years. With their cut-glass harmonies and fiery lyrics, they are the queens of the contemporary R&B scene. Brandy and J-Lo ain't got nothing on these three girls.
It's always been clear who's in charge of the well-oiled machine that is Destiny's Child, and tonight even the choreography underlines the pecking-order. Beyoncé, looking like Kelis's long-lost twin with her blond Afro and steely gaze, is always centre stage. She gets the biggest solo spots, too; at one stage we're treated to a riotous preview of "Work It Out", a song from the new Austin Powers movie. The trio wheel out their hits in all their shouty, sing-along glory; "Bills, Bills, Bills", "Jumpin Jumpin", "Bootylicious", "Independent Women". All the stadium staples are here, too: dancers, fireworks, frequent costume changes (the members of Destiny's Child must be the only women in the world to be able to wear silver-tassled mini-skirts and not look slutty).
Somewhat incongruously, they have a drum solo, too, a spectacularly dull interlude that at least allows all the dads to get a beer in without missing any naked flesh.
If we're picking holes in the show, I would say that the production is on the shoddy side. Behind one moving platform you can just make out a man bent over and pushing with all his might through the dry ice. Destiny's Child are one of the biggest-selling acts in the world, for goodness' sake. You'd think that a few stage hydraulics wouldn't be beyond their means.
Amid the sequins and smiles, there are souls in need of saving. Thanking God for the umpteenth time, Beyoncé, Michelle and Kelly launch into an awful a cappella gospel medley. But there's worse to come. When the three don evening gowns and each sing a gloopy ballad from their forthcoming solo albums, everything falls into place. With Whitney and Mariah indisposed, there's a gap in the market for a some honest-to-goodness, lung-busting, platinum-selling soul divas. If tonight's gig were an edition of Stars in Their Eyes, Beyoncé couldn't have done a better impression of Mariah with her song "Dangerously in Love". It's a glimpse into the future that most of us would rather not see.
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