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Live Review: B*Witched, Atomic Kitten, S Club 3, East 17, Liberty X

9 February 2017 | 1:48 pm | Simon Holland

"It was testament to the talent and showmanship required to succeed in the era."

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If the words Impulse Spice, Dolly Magazine and Alex Mack get the nostalgia juices flowing; chances are you were a product of the '90s. Metro City played host to a super '90s throwback gig reminiscent of one giant Blue Light Disco and it was as completely mental as you may imagine.

The '90s were the Golden Era of manufactured sugar-pop. MTV, Video Hits, Smash Hits magazine. The recipe and cultural conditions were firmly in the pop Goldilocks Zone; the catchiness and musicality of the '80s, with the marketing and cool factor of the '00s. Nearly two decades later and current Top 40 stations sound like a stagnating boiled-down shadow of that corporate/creative period. This packed show brought back that magic for one night.

The crowd wasn't automatically ready to party — former '90s fans were now worn-out from a big Tuesday and a midweek, midnight bedtime had become a little daunting.

Liberty X kicked off proceedings more with a taste of the theme of the night, as none of the songs really sounded that familiar. Possibly owing to the fact the Popstars finalists arrived late to the party in 2001, with most singles hovering around the 70 mark in the ARIA charts. It was refreshing to see beautiful singing and moving carry the show though and musically Liberty X were faultless, but something was missing; oh yeah, a familiar hit!

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Boom. On cue Just A Little arrived and set the stage alight. Reaching #4 in our charts, and going Platinum, the track would set the scene for the rest of the night. Beautiful natural voices and tight choreography reminded us that some of those first reality-based music competitions unearthed some serious talent.

East 17 were pretty badass back in the day — kinda like a gang of semi-tough Justin Biebers that were really into soccer. However, when the boys from Walthamstow took to the stage it became glaringly obvious that the gang had moved to nicer suburbs. They were still armed with chart-conquering hits from the early '90s, but their set was a bit of a reminder that times change. House Of Love from '92's smash hit Walthamstow demonstrated a semi-serious attitude to the stage. Wavy ballad Stay Another Day was the school disco slow-dance anthem entry, no doubt the soundtrack for many a first kiss, and drew out the dreamy smiles. It was chart-topper Around The World and alpha song It's Alright that drew the loudest screams.

Atomic Kitten took the stage a woman down (Kerry Katona pulled out due to illness) and absolutely slayed. Arguably the act of the night in terms of performance, total babes Natasha Hamilton and Michelle Heaton linked up with soaring vocal exchanges and matching dance routines. It was testament to the talent and showmanship required to succeed in the era. It wasn't a big spectacle, there were no sparks or explosions. It was just great singing and dancing in its most stripped-back state. Brilliant versions of Eternal Flame and Whole Again prompted more fist-microphones than a Decore commercial and Ladies Night bought out the struts and body shimmers. It was Tide Is High (Get The Feeling) that really took the cake; collecting all the best ingredients from the late '90s.

Armed with probably the biggest back catalogue of hits, S Club 7 are down to S Club 3 these days, and, with Jo O’Meara out of the game following surgery, have been reduced to S Club 2. Can we realistically call two people a club anymore? It didn't matter. The strength of the hits carried S Club to glory — the setlist reading like a dedicated So Fresh track listing.

Bring It All Back and S Club Party were two absolute chart-crushing juggernauts. Reach had the star-finger, leaning forward shoulder wiggle moves out and Don't Stop Movin' set the floor on fire. It would be great to see the Club get back together on a stadium super tour.

B*Witched felt like a weird headliner off the back of the last few performances — until you realised that they were statistically the least dismembered of any of the acts. It also became apparent that this was their tour because they had newer tracks (from 2014's Champagne Or Guinness). The fans, which had by now become accustomed to the singalongs, were frozen solid; this wasn't what they signed up for. This didn't feel right. All the Riverdancing in the world wasn't helping and the people were not responding to the new stuff. Love & Money was actually great, and would be well-suited to a Disney flick title-sequence, but this wasn't the deal. The act continued and choices to dance were being made on a case-by-case basis until... Rollercoaster dropped.

It was their self-titled 1998 debut that had won B*Witched these particular fans — there wasn't a girl alive that didn't own the deliciously red and jumpy-fun album. C'est La Vie was reserved for the encore and the place erupted. Let's Go (The B*Witched Jig) killed it and set micro jig-circles moving all through the club. This classic hit single-handedly turned the tide for B*Witched and as the show drew to a close the crowd jigged all the way out the door.