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Jun 05

Girls Aloud – Hammersmith Apollo, 28th May 2005

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The first thing to be said – and it almost goes without saying – is that moment for moment this was about five times more entertaining and inspiring than most other gigs I’ve seen. This is surely because I don’t go to pop gigs much. One of the reasons for this is that I am afraid of looking like a sleazy old man – rightly so, on this evidence, though there were plenty of adults including a bunch of rugby lads in front of us who gave us a taste of our own sight-blocking medecine before heading down the front and bopping away to “No Good Advice”.

The second thing to be said is that I’m not going to say much about the actual Girls Aloud performance. Talent In A Previous Life sums it up nicely, as Alan says below – they were excellent, and we all liked Nicola best. The end (except to praise their “The Only Living Girl In New Cross”, an unexpected treat). This post is to discuss the trimmings of the Aloud experience.

Most of the other over-16s stayed in the bar for the support acts: Kute, Triple8 and Cookie. We brought our beers in for the pop fun and applied our highest standards of critical analysis, “Fucking yes! It’s Rainbow!” (see TIAPL again). The support acts get no band or backdrop, nothing but a tape and a big black tarpaulin: to perform in front of a big crowd like this, especially if you’re young, takes guts I’d have thought – Kute looked very vulnerable.

On the other hand all these people have been to stage school since they were 3 I guess.

Anyway I thought plucky Kute were great, and Triple 8 were awful. “You may remember us,” they said ruefully. One of them had the worst crotch-grab technique I’d ever seen: his hand would start boldly at nipple height, plunge down then suddenly veer off course as if checking whether his mobile was still in his pocket. Dutiful screams from a tiny nugget of fanbase masked general indifference. Cookie meanwhile were sort of a Lidl version of Girls Aloud proper, they all looked as if they hated one another (and it turned out they’d already split up once this tour). The support acts all finished with their new singles, in Cookie’s case the chorus of this bears a shocking resemblance to “Ready To Go” by Republica, fair enough as long as nobody makes a habit out of it.

Incidentally, isn’t 15 minutes a great length for a set?

All the support acts did a curious polite thing whereby they admitted that the audience were all really here to see Girls Aloud, you wouldn’t find such servility on the London pub circuit I’m sure. Once Cookie were bundled off the real support act fun could begin with the BLINK TV Girls Aloud special programming. The main features here were cut-and-paste video montages of various icons, so for “I’m Every Woman” you had a parade of Whitney, Madonna, various film stars, Britney, Xtina and so on. You also had Girls Aloud shots cut in occasionally – even into the ones about men! – to test if the audience were paying attention and screaming enough. The reels of men – no pop stars here except for Robbie, all film bods – were the kind of market research money can’t buy. Leonardo – scream. Orlando – MASSIVE SCREAM. Hugh Grant – silence. Al Pacino – stampede to doors.

We also saw the most ILM thing I have ever witnessed – a video of classic rock clips (Zep, Queen, Stones, Clash) cut up and electronically treated to the soundtrack of a sped up helium-vox version of POP MUZIK BY M!!! If anyone from Blink TV ever googles, I am desperate to see this again, thanks.

Outside the gig the merchandise stalls were busy and not cheap – £22 for a T-Shirt, I don’t think so. Mind you I bought a Girls Aloud scarf for a tenner, proper Rollers chic that, it will come in handy at Glastonbury to rally the troops. And that was that, really: a hugely enjoyable night out.

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