Mel C: Helsinki Jaahalli

Mel C's enthusiasm makes up for her lack of singing/dancing/entertaining ability...

“Crackle, crackle! This is Radio Mel C liiiive! Crackle!” blares from the speakers. Between moronic bits of radio lingo there are snippets of the songs we’re about to hear. It’s not really an intro. More of an invitation for the girls and boys to run back from the popcorn stands.

And, oh yes, they come running. Just like the band, and finally, amidst

screams of a thousand ten-year-olds, the beefy one herself. She greets her teen audience with a professionalism of a day care worker. Cute and firm, she counts on her girlie charm. She, and practically everyone else, knows that the music could be playback and we’d still be here loving her clumsy aerobic karate. The teenage girls with their mothers, the gay crowd, grown men.

When the band kicks off with the William Orbit produced ‘Go’, we get the first taster of what the evening’s cabaret will be like. Not much. Mel‘s choreography is frankly embarrassing. Kicking and punching the air, hopping and waving hands aimlessly, she looks as if she doesn’t really know what to do with herself. And while she now looks less like a freakish gym instructor and more like the girl next door, it hasn’t done any good for her stage charisma.

It’s not entirely her fault that the show looks dull. The almost non-existing lights make the arena look emptier than it really is and the smell of popcorn and rustle of candy wrappers remind you of a school disco. But you can’t not like her, because you know that she really wants this last night of the March leg of the tour to be the best yet. And while honesty may not mean much in the world of commercial pop, it is touching. That’s why it’s only half funny when she dedicates ‘Northern Star’ to her audience “because we all live up North too”.

Otto Talvio