S Club 7: Birmingham NEC

S Club 7 play new songs at warm-up show...

You can always rely on good old fashioned pop acts like Steps or Kylie to put on a good old knees up that'll keep both the kids and the kids-at-heart bopping away with glee. And S Club 7 are no exception. For their first live dates ever, the band borrow from the best but give the seen-it-all-before proceedings a much needed S Club twist that'll no doubt keep the ravenous fans on side for a good

few months to come.

Following a refreshingly hilarious entrance from the band which includes

fresh-faced Hannah descending from the rafters by parachute, beefy heart throb Paul screeching on stage behind the wheel of a tiny go-cart, flimsy Jon having

to 'comically' persuade butch security staff to let him join his perky pop pals

and - best of all - Superfly Guy Bradley swaggering on stage with a pair of lithe, leggy laydeez draped off each arm, the band burst into a spirited version of their brilliant chart-topper, 'Don't Stop Movin'' which kicks things off in great style.

What follows seems like a blur as everybody's favourite seven piece whizz through a sizzling set of album tracks, singles and surprises. You name them, they're there. Euphoric S Club classics like 'Reach', 'S Club Party' and 'Bring It All Back' are all dusted off and performed with youthful gusto sitting side-by-side next to album tracks like 'Stand By

You', 'Viva Fiesta' and 'Bring The House Down' which, rather fittingly, they manage to do with ease.

Good news for S Club devotees looking for something fresh, a couple of new tracks make it onto the set list too including an old-skool 7 track called 'You' which is a lively little ditty that gets everyone singing along. However, better still is feather-light Jon's show-stopping version of Michael Jackson's 'She's Out Of My Life' which is truly beautiful and touching, although accompanied by a bizarre avant garde dance performance by solid-as-a-rock member Tina.

Impressively, for a band who've never performed a full live stage show before, S Club 7 prove that when it comes to belting out a tune, they're all tip top

talents who'll no doubt go a long way. However, if one of the magnificent seven were to be singled out and crowned the star of the show, it'd have to be that cheeky, free-styling scamp Paul Cattermole. After the opening few numbers, the chunky devil treats the crowd to his very own oddball interpretation of the band's super tight choreography and, in the encore makes us wonder if that naughty episode a month or two back was just a one-off after all, if you know what I mean.

If one thing's for sure having joined Jo, Jon, Hannah, Tina, Brad, Paul and Rachel on their dazzlingly magical journey through pop's live wonderland, it's clear, as cringeworthy as it sounds, that there just ain't no party like an S Club party.

Christian Guiltenane

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