London Wembley Arena

Mel C rocks Wembley as only Mel C can...

It’s a miserable night up Wembley way, and inside the Arena, there’s a tantrum going on. As opening act Kelis’ cooler-than-thou band launch into their first funk metal broadside of the evening, six-year-old Gemma Archer from Ashford in Kent – who, I am assured, is in no way related to him out of Oasis – is almost in tears. “I thought it was going to be that Welsh girl who does ‘Road Rage’,” reasons her mother, hastily bundling the bawling child in the direction of the nearest pizza stand.

It’s unlikely you’ll mistake Melanie Chisholm for anyone else these days. Certainly, you’d not think that this was the same Mel C who back-flipped her way into the nation’s hearts when the Spice Girls still stood for all that was preposterous and good about pop music.

Contrary to the disgraceful witterings of the tabloid press, the reason for this is not that our Mel has evidently tucked away a few tactical pasties over the last few months (it’s nothing but salads over in the News Of The World canteen, you know) but rather that, over the course of her solo escapades, she has elevated being ‘a bit ordinary’ into an art form.

So tonight, in front of a backdrop that appears to be made up of three giant fried eggs on stalks, she bounds onto the stage in the same jeans and spangly top as half the audience and proceeds to skip, trip, mug and swear (yes, swear!) her way through 90 minutes. She plugs the new Spice Girls album, tells us that – hold the front page – “Westlife are cheese” and, this being a stadium rock show, plays all manner of interminably hollow-sounding stadium rock songs full of grimacing and guitar solos as Spice pals Bunto and Scary watch on happily. Giant eggs aside, it’s all so terribly… well, ordinary.

Still, Miss C’s every utterance is rapturously received by an audience that is equal parts pushchairs and pensioners, and when she finally does get around to playing her two bona fide pop gems ‘Never Be The Same Again’ and loony trance behemoth ‘I Turn To You’, the ovation she receives almost rips a hole in the roof. Young Gemma Archer from Ashford in Kent is so excited that she’s sick. Everywhere. Never be the same again? The back of her mum’s coat probably won’t be.

Andrew Wagstaff