London Croydon Fairfield Hall

See, [a]Steps[/a] are the training bras of POP!, a tool of edutainment (A is for [a]Abba[/a], B is for [a]Bee Gees[/a], etc) to be snuggled up to, screamed at and finally discarded along with your

London Croydon Fairfield Hall

The big circular screen, hovering like an evil svengali brain over Stepworld, is trying to kill us. It prints up 'SCREAM IF YOU WANT Steps!' and the balcony shakes. It says 'LOUDER!' and three pensioners in Aberdeen pass away from the shock. It reads 'WE CAN'T HEAR YOU!' and a family in Japan phone up to complain that they can't hear their telly.



Then it shows a backstage video ofSteps (AAAAAGGHHHHH!!!!): the girls doing their make-up, the boys squeezing each other's muscles and twirling footballs in a manly manner. Then THEY'RE HERE! And they've GOT NAMES! LISA! LEE! FAYE! H! (H?!?) CLAIRE! WHICH ONE'S YOUR FAVOURITE? WHICH ONE'S WHICH? WHO CARES! AAAAAAAAAARRGGHHH!



See, Steps are the training bras of POP!, a tool of edutainment (A is for Abba, B is for Bee Gees, etc) to be snuggled up to, screamed at and finally discarded along with your Tickle-Me Elmo. And, seeing as though they spend the first 30 minutes doing rubbish 'Dancing Queen' rip-offs, we shall, in all fairness, only review the dancing.



'Better Best' is great, a bit like an invisible lift door opening so that Steps can throw some salt over their shoulders. '5-6-7-8' is a more traditional hoedown, featuring the blokes giving each other piggy backs. But best of all is 'Love U More', where the 'band' do a kind of cack-handed Nazi march before sticking their fists in huge pots of honey and smearing it slowly across their chests... er, sorry, I may have blacked out by this point, bored to tears by what is essentially the world's largest workout video.



Then the unimaginable happens. They speak.



And a very scary thing happens when they do - the Butlin's Red Coat in them all bursts forth, shouts, "HELLOOOOO! WHO FANCIES LEE?", and starts organising Mexican waves and the whole show stops being POP! and starts being Playbus On Ice. There's a medley of songs from recent kiddie cartoon films, followed by - unless we hallucinated it - Claire's Quiz. Then they reappear in rainbow jim-jams and blast through The Rembrandts' 'I'll Be There For You' in a pyjama partee style to show what reeelleeee good mates they are.



At which point NME should explode with sneering indie sadisms, phrases like 'manufactured pap', and 'spawns of Satan'. But we won't, because only six-year-olds can judge whether Steps make shite six-year-olds' music. Oh yes.



So we laugh along while we can. Yes, they do 'Tragedy' and, yes, we all bawl our lungs to ribbons and we all get driven home by our mams and we all grow up and kiss with tongues and get pregnant (because that's what happens, it's TRUE!) and denounce proper POP! to become goths and die in bizarre suicide pacts because that's life and that's POP! and if you can't stand the beat get off the planet. Because, for tonight, we go home giggling like loons and doing the Status-Quo-wearing-big-earmuffs dance.



In a manly way, of course.

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