Smash Hits Tour

Tonight, as if the drooling 12 to 20-year-olds aren't enough of a tip off, Westlife are headlining...

Like a school panto trip you can always guarantee a half decent turn-out for the Smash Hits Tour. Gaggles of kids begs their folks to trek along to see the pretty faces of pop strut their stuff like a collective conveyer belt of Number One chart street’s favourites hanging out in the same supermarket.

Tonight, as if the drooling 12 to 20-year-olds aren’t enough of a tip off, Westlife are headlining. But as a ‘music’ event, Smash Hits doesn’t really stretch the mind or break any barriers – for a start the majority of acts appearing here, bar Supersister and Richard Blackwood, mimes their set. Blackwood pulls off an amusing impromptu rap with Bryan from Westlife, who proves to be rather handy with the lyrical twisters. Perhaps most disappointing of all tonight, after A1 have spent the past two months touring the UK singing and playing instruments that were actually plugged in, they obviously couldn’t be bothered this evening.

Often the Smash Hits Tour isn’t about that, though. The kids want to be entertained and as far as they’re concerned, dance routines faster than a whippet chasing a hare and a sexy gyrating body in front of their eyes is more than enough. And there’s plenty of that. Westlife churn out a chunk of songs from their ‘Coast To Coast’ album including the highly-tipped-to-be-Christmas-Number-One, ‘What Makes A Man’, a cover of The Temptations’ ‘My Girl’ and – bejeez! – they even dance to ‘I Lay My Love On You’! Point Break could teach them a thing or two about up-tempos, however. They’ve managed to co-write pop songs with a tough edge and not, for a change, straight out of the Swedish Cheiron production booth. They’ve got the pyrotechnics and the beats, and the girls and guys in the crowd love ’em.

Same can be said for Atomic Kitten, and even if half the audience here are jealous of Kerry and Bryan ‘Life’s engagement, it doesn’t stop them walking off with half the biggest yells of the night. And no, they weren’t shouting abuse! Meanwhile, fresh faces Boom! should waltz home with the Best New Tour Act award at the Poll Winners Party on Sunday – their blend of 2-step meets pop causes crowd frenzy tonight and is exactly what the mundane Top 40 needs to brighten it up at the moment. Before we head into the night to buy an over priced t-shirt and fake poster on the way home, The Baha Men appear on stage with the rest of tonight’s stars for a dreadful, inevitable and hilarious rendition of ‘Who Let The Dogs Out?’ Whether intentionally other otherwise, they close the show.

Hits – there were plenty. Smashing – yes it was. 2000 – it’s the year of lip-syncing. But you already knew that.

Kim Dawson