London Earl’s Court

...This is a family show....

News just in: David Beckham has had a clause inserted in his contract with Manchester United which says he can become a free agent and sign for whoever he wants if his team don’t win the Championship this year.

Alright, that bit’s made up, but it’s like three out of four [a]Spice Girls[/a] launching solo careers before the group has even split up. It hardly inspires confidence in their future together.

And Mel C, for one, is surely pushing her luck. Her outfit is cut-off trousers aiming somewhere between pedal-pushers and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin-style big shorts. Alas, her too-tight halter top and excruciating hip-thrusting dance routines make her look like a nine year old with soap in her hair doing an impression in the mirror of Toyah Wilcox. Never mind, eh? At least her audience identify with her. Most of this crowd are barely out of Teletubbies costumes.

Meanwhile, your correspondent, the unshaven man in the long Mac and the smuggled-in bottle of vodka, is eyed with the kind of suspicion usually reserved for recently released child sex offenders. This is a family show. Indeed, between songs the girls ensure they talk like [I]Play School [/I]presenters to the kids while slipping in the odd double entendre for the mums and dads. At one point Posh even says, “If you don’t keep buying our records I might start eating.” Ooh, satire!

And we all lap it up, not least because the [a]Spice Girls[/a] make music that you can listen to between meals without ruining your appetite, or using a sick bag. They start with ‘Spice Up Your Life’ and it’s got ten times more juice as a party tune than any of their contemporaries can muster. It makes ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ sound like ‘My Way’. ‘Wannabe’ is a roaring snotty brat of a pop tune that sounds like we’re being de-bagged by a gang of drunken crackhead Essex girls. They pull off Motown-lite like ‘Stop’ or ‘Too Much’ just as well. And even a rock hack who dines nightly on the reheated livers of dead Minipops cannot deny that ‘Viva Forever’, ‘2 Become 1’ and ‘Goodbye’ are top-class smoochers.

Most importantly, the [a]Spice Girls[/a] still endure as a great pop group because they’re built on personality and some smidgen of charisma rather than catalogue-model looks and interchangeable pap tunes. And, hosanna, they’ve saved the ‘mature’ solo songs for another night. Even the onstage banter seems genuine and unscripted, and the perma-grins unforced. And when they encore with a karaoke singalong of ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, your cynicism is long since suspended, and you can see that [I]Spice House Party[/I] primetime slot waiting to happen.

Then we woke up, and the [a]Spice Girls[/a] were still together, David Beckham was still at Man U, and they still won everything. Girl Power!

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