Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review: Little Mix in Manchester

Thirlwall, Pinnock, Nelson and Edwards, it says on a big banner at Manchester's Phones 4U Arena. It looks like an advert for an upmarket chartered accountants but no! It's the UK's premiere girl band, Little Mix. 

And here they are, dropping from the ceiling in parkas. "A-ten-shun," they sing unnecessarily, as 14,000 glowsticks are waved frantically in their direction. 

Yes, this is the Salute Tour and it is quite a spectacle. The three-tiered set, festooned with gigantic fans and pyrotechnic devices, is like a post-apocalypse West Side Story. The choreography has a Rice Krispie crackle and pop. And the singing is way above the girl band standard. Early on, Perrie hits a note that has the parents turning to each other and remarking, "ooh, she's good."

So it's a shame the sound designer has let them down so badly. For Little Mix are warbling and wailing over a pre-recorded backing track, and it can't match their powerhouse performances. There are moments where the band ad-lib or (gasp) mime to backing vocals and the song's energy drains away completely. Whoever is responsible should be fired. 

It's not a complete disaster, though. When the girls break out live, four-part harmonies on Boy, it's a treat - even though poor old Jesy's clearly suffering from a chest infection. 

And the extended, Rhythm Nation-style dance breakdown on DNA is worthy of its inspiration. It's also nice to see such a dance-heavy concert completely devoid of sexually suggestive choreography. The band apparently take their "girls together" message seriously. 

Interestingly, their X Factor winner's single, Canonball, has been airbrushed out of history. At the encore, Wings is introduced as "the first single we ever released" - but there's a sweet moment when the entire arena sings it back to the band, a capella. 

"We know for a fact we're in for a good night when we're in Manchester," says Jade. 

Well, quite. 

Nothing Feels Like You
About The Boy
Change Your Life 
Dark Horse (Katy Perry cover)
A Different Beat
How Ya Doin'
Mr Loverboy
Word Up
Stand Down
Dance Medley: Talk Dirty / N***as In Paris / Run The World (Girls) / Can't Hold Us
Little Me 

Good Enough

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