Reviewed by Chemical Magazine
The Saturdays have come extremely far in the three years since I first saw them supporting Girls Aloud, on the same stage they are playing tonight. Recently releasing their third studio album entitled ‘On Your Radar’ these 5 women had plenty of choice of what to sing on this tour. Personally I wasn’t too impressed by their latest album and was hoping witnessing them live tonight would change my opinion of it. Being the first night of the tour had meant I along with those here tonight did not know what to expect.
Three support acts are never a wise move, tonight these were NVS, Daniela Brooker and Oh My!. NVS admittedly were probably playing to their largest crowd tonight but there was something missing. The sound was distorted beyond belief, they tried far too hard to sell their merchandise and it didn’t do themselves any favours. With a bit of practice they could be something special, but tonight they just sounded like an X Factor reject. Next up was 18 year old Daniela Brooker who was a different story. Writing all her own songs which were meaningful and relatable it showed all the young fans here tonight of they try hard enough they can get where they want to be. Her music was a huge change from that of NVS’s despite still not being my cup of tea it was very well performed. Final support who I was most looking forward to Oh My! were by far the best support on tonight’s bill. Alex and Jade had everything a band needs, including originality and the power to get the crowd excited. They weren’t trying to be something they aren’t and didn’t try hard to impress as this just happened naturally. Single dirty dancer defined their set for me. Slick and flawless with perfected routines and vocals, for me this was when my night really started.
After what could only be called a mixed array of support acts it was time for The Saturdays. What hit me early on was the varied age group of the audience from children who could be witnessing their first concert to the older generation. My only worry about this tour has always been Una’s pregnancy preventing her from performing her best on this tour. The lights dropped at exactly 8.40pm, camera flashes went crazy and the crowd erupted into screams. It was time. All that was heard was the back beat to recent single Notorious. Then from above the stage came an elevator cage enclosing 5 women most commonly known as The Saturdays. Once to the stage the girls erupted into a slick dancing routine, moving themselves around in the elevator cage. Talk about good first impressions, they smashed it from the very start. The theme clearly was for the first set of the show ‘sexy secretaries’, and they most certainly kept with it!
One thing was noticeable clearly was Una’s ever growing bump which also exposed the tricks the outfit designer had played to make her outfit fit throughout the tour. The girls fitted together more than ever, they were slick, and they deserved the reception they got. Second song Work provided both onstage visuals and superb vocals once again. With school desks placed onstage and a chorus of suited male dancers they were made to work. Now this song to me made ne thing did the choreographer lay this out for Una’s sake? From the beginning it appeared that she just wasn’t herself and already seemed worn out. The girls in previous interviews had revealed that there first arena tour was going to be a special show and from the first two songs it most certainly looked that way!
Playing hits from Chasing lights and Headlines as well as debuting new songs from recently released ‘On Your Radar’ there truly was something for every fan whether they’d been a fan for a few months or a few years. Weaker song on the album ‘Faster’ outshone live, Very surprisingly. The crowds reaction was mixed tonight, with parts stood up getting involved with the party atmosphere with others sat there looking rather unimpressed. So far I only could find one issue with the show; the girls had focused it all around their up-tempo club inspired songs which I feel are some of their weakest.
Frankie before do fan favourite ‘Do What You Want With Me’ explained to the crowd how Una was going to have a little break. After hearing and seeing them perform an outrageous dance routine it was clear why. I understand they are young women who can dance in any way they desire, however seeing parents cringing whilst their children watched their idols gyrating and throwing themselves around is something which should not happen. Something was also missing; in my opinion the absence of Una proved how big a part she is of the Saturdays puzzle. Yes all the girls can sing don’t get me wrong but Una and Vanessa showed to be the leaders of the group.
For me the mid segment of the show was the strongest and the best. First single If This Is Love was mixed up with current hit Moves like Jagger, not the most likely combination but it worked a dream. It showcased each members outstanding vocals without having to battle for attention, something which hadn’t happened much previously tonight. This was the turning point in the set; each girl looked like they were truly having fun something which had not happen up until this point tonight. The Saturdays showed what they came to do, dominate the crowd by just being themselves. This song was showcased for the very first time tonight and received a phenomenal reaction from the crowd, coming so far in such a short space of time.
The Saturdays unlike some bands weren’t afraid to get close to their fans; a mini catwalk leading into the crowd was erected and used throughout the night. It meant the girls were able to connect with many of their fans not just those in the front rows, using the relatively small BIC stage to the best of their ability. The girls were simply playing a game of hide and seek with the crowd for much of the night. Coming back on stage from the top, the bottom and from various side doors and shoots putting into action every element from shows they have been support acts to over the years.
Last Call was performed on a sofa placed in the middle of the catwalk, giving a sense of a much more intimate feel in the larger arena. The pace was stepped down and emotion was felt throughout, White was able to captive the audience from the very first line. I personality feel that The Saturdays strengths lay in the strong ballads which they performed few of tonight. It was stripped back to the very bare minimum allowing fans to connect with their idols who appeared relaxed and happy to finally be off their feet for a little while. Their voices just shone through for me here, Last Call had been my favourite song of On Your Radar and to hear it live just swept me off my feet. All five of the girls can sing flawlessly something which is rare in most groups now a days, whilst performing emotively and to an extremely high standard. Despite White and Healy being the ‘lead’ vocalists, Sandford, Wiseman and King all hold their own whilst waving and interacting to their fans starstruck at being so near and connected to their idols. Missing You symbolised for me the huge steps these women have taken in the past years, performing on stage with stage high coloured ribbon sheets, it took me back to when the performed supporting onstage simply with 5 coloured ribbons stuck to the stage floor. Vocally tonight the girls performed the strongest I have ever seen them perform both live and on television. Meeting all the intricate notes, pitch perfecting harmonies and not faltering at all showed how they’ve practiced putting their all in to get to the top.
Disappearing off stage a short while after appeared 5 scantily clad male dancers, dressed in sequined Santa trousers. Up from the stage came for large present boxes, and as the first chords of Winter Wonderland played from the band which had accompanied the girls tonight each box opened revealing one member at a time. Unveiling yet again another outfit for tonight’s show, this time being Mrs Claus outfits covered with sequins and fur a festive feel was felt through the crowd. Considering it had only just turned December it was an accepted move but still an unexpected one, creating their own flawless take on a classic Christmas song the girls did it justice. Moving back onto the catwalk and to the end the girls stood as it started to move in a clock wise direction as snow fell from the ceiling above them onto them and the crowd. It was well thought out and as the girls had explained they would be touring up until Christmas so wanted to be able to experience it at each show on the tour. The unity throughout the girls was shown, showing how close they have all become throughout the time as a band. It was hard for many in the crowd to hold back tears especially when one fan near to the stage gave Una a baby present which she opened onstage and being able to witness the sheer joy from all of them was touching. It was clear the girls had not expected such a warm reception on the first night of their tour especially from a relatively small town crowd.
Closing with undoubtedly most known hit ‘Higher’, it was clear that this show had already worn the girls out, due to them almost constantly being on their feet. Healy appeared to have just given up by the final closing song most probably being worn out by the sheer pace of the night, emitting fears that it could possibly become too much for her to handle after a few nights on the road. But only time will tell. Removing their Santa dresses revealing more appropriate attire of shorts and customised vests embroided with their initial on the back meant Higher was a party song to end the night. With the crowd on their feet getting involved leaving the show to go off with a bang, small little faults were brought to view during this song with the backing track at points over powering the vocals of the girls. Yet again with another accompanying routine all those involved tonight were brought back onto stage, numerous dancers, bands and of course the 5 girls we were all hear to see. Disappearing into the stage with an enormous roar from the crowd the show was over. 21 songs down and many heart once again one over, the first All Fired Up tour date was over.
Tonight’s opening show truly showed me and others how far these talented women have come. From supporting Girls Aloud when they appeared onstage armed with ribbons to a full-scale onstage production. These girls had not only reached expectations set for them, but also smashed them. For now The Saturdays have no worries about having to battle to be Britain’s best girlband’s because of the show the put on for tonight’s crowd they simply undefeatable. Bigger things are to come from these talented women, and I personally cannot wait to follow their journey.