Hear’Say : London Wembley Arena

"Dads!" belows Danny Foster , "Don't go to sleep! It's gonna be a good show."

“Dads!” bellows Danny Foster, someone who really doesn’t need to bellow. “Don’t go to sleep! It’s gonna be a good show.”

We’re three songs in, and it is already apparent that Danny is, basically, lying. This will not be a good show. It will be a crushing disappointment in which five ‘Popstars’ popstars try their best to rescue a show that is tawdry and unimaginative, and fail.

Usually a tour whose set list is as feeble as this (based as it is around a startlingly weak debut album and a series of ill-advised covers) would pull out many, many stops to occupy eyes if not ears, but the first half of this show is conducted on a set built without any creative flair or imagination whatsoever. Things get more promising for the second half, which is based on a huge pinball machine, but that soon begins to bore; approximately three members of this audience have even the slightest grasp on what a pinball machine is. Clue: it’s like PlayStation. “Does anybody remember a song called ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time?’” asks Noel during a ‘Popstars’ audition-style setpiece featuring three kids doing Britney. Firstly, no, because a song by that name has never existed and, secondly, no, because hardly anybody here is old enough.

Sometimes, though, it’s good to trade on your audience’s innocence. The showstopping conveyor-belt set-piece in ‘Colour Blind’ looks amazing, and nobody need know that it’s been stolen wholesale from *N SYNC, who’ve been touring it in the States for the past 18 months. At least Hear’say can rest safe in the knowledge that nobody else has ever (or will ever) attempt a Gloria Estefan medley, a moment tonight for which the word ‘inexplicable’ may have been invented. Because it’s a bit Latin and stuff, the medley is accompanied by an amusingly half-arsed ticker tape shower. Hey! It’s like a fiesta! Actually, it’s more like a Ford Fiesta. In fact, it’s rather a lot more like a Skoda.

There are many, many more covers tonight. Suzanne’s version of Madonna‘s ‘Express Yourself’ is ace for two reasons – firstly because there’s bugger all chance of hearing Madge herself actually performing it in the forseeable future (it does, after all, have a tune), and secondly because Suzanne belts through it looking, and sounding, just like Madonna. The other members’ solo covers are simply baffling – Kym does LeAnn Rimes’ ‘How Can I Live’ (dedicated to her kids, whose home movies are tastefully playing on the video screens), Noel and Danny do Luther Vandross and the Fatback Band respectively, and a leather-clad Myleene goes into cleavage overload and tackles Tina Arena’s ‘Chains’ (key lyric: “I’m in chains”) quite literally ?in chains?.

Even that seems subtle compared with the fact that the ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ video screen actually shows a waterfall, ie SOME TROUBLED WATERS. The key upshot of this is that twelve audience members piss themselves.

“What a wicked job we have!” Myleene later exclaims, apropos of nothing. Quite right too, you get to wear nice clothes, sing some songs and eat loads of nice cakes and stuff. It’s not Hear’say’s fault that tonight’s show is so poor – their performances are all ballsy and note-perfect, there are at least three solo stars among them, and they’re banging through what hits they have as if their careers depend on it. But if those around them don’t start making the band a bit more interesting, this “wicked job” will have about as much longevity as one on a dot.com.

Peter Robinson