Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena became like a all singing, all dancing (well gyrating) version of Smash Hits magazine on Thursday night as the Big Reunion Boyband tour rolled into town.
The poster boys for the CD single-buying generation were all in on the act- Blue, A1, 5ive, 911, 3T, Damage and 5th Story, a veritable pick and mix of popstar yesteryear with members from Blazin Squad and Another Level in its lineup along with Poll Winners Party favourite Kavana, Pop Idol star Gareth Gates and Corrie actor turned wannabe politician Adam Rickitt.
This wasn’t a hot ticket for the download savvy Directioners of the modern era, this was a chance for lasses (who were in the majority) and lads of a certain age to turn the clock back, leave their inhibitions at the door and party, well like it was 1999.
Up first were A1 and, excuse the pun, they put things on a steady road with Aha cover Take On Me and the song that shocked everyone back in 2002 for being way too cool for a boyband- Caught in the Middle.
Next up were 5ive , in truth Three, but to be fair to them their lack of numbers wasn’t too much of a hindrance, well not in the eyes of the crowd anyway, who lapped up every last lyric of Everybody Get Up and If Ya Gettin Down.
With a pace quicker than a 90s teen learning their Smash Hits songwords, the show welcomed 911 to the stage next with Love Sensation and number one A Little Bit More.
A bit of laid back soul was then brought to the table by Damage whose sound was a contrast to the bubblegum pop the other acts enthusiastically served up.
Then came the tour’s most curious act- 5th Story.
On paper five ghosts of 90s/00s pop past could have been an off-key car crash but Dane Bowers whose soulful vocals have stood the test of time, steered them out of trouble and their song choices won a mighty seal of approval from the Tyneside faithful.
Surprisingly the biggest cheers of the night and I’d say just about deservedly so, were reserved for 3T. Michael Jackson’s nephews did an easy job of showing that the Jackson cup runneth over when it comes to vocal talent.
Noughties pop's naughty boys Blue closed the opening half. Starting their account with the sombre Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, they did prompt a few trips to the bar and toilets, but all those that did came rushing back when the opening strains of All Rise rang out,
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with many of the seats empty as the majority of the crowd stood throughout, soaking up every bit of nostalgia thrown at them.
Highlights were 5th Story’s take on Adam Rickitt’s Breathe Again, 911’s Bodyshakin and Blue’s Breathe Easy which saw Lee Ryan give a vocal masterclass.
Coming at the end of a week when the arena also hosted music for the more reserved musical ear, The Big Reunion was like cheese to the chalk of Paolo Nutini and Ed Sheeran.
This was an unapologetic romp to yesteryear and one which did exactly what it promised to.
Newer material from the acts involved doesn’t make anywhere near as big a dent in the charts as their old stuff; the torsos might not be quite as toned as they were but you know what? It didn’t matter as the effort and the enthusiasm was there and the love from the fans was too.
The Big Reunion left me hankering for the days of taping songs from the charts on Sunday then watching them being performed live on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night.
More cheesy than a giant bag of Wotsits but just as satisfying a guilty pleasure.
A1; Take On Me, Caught in the Middle
Five- We Will Rock You, Everybody Get Up
Damage- Ghetto Romance, Forever
911- Party People Love Sensation, A Little Bit More
5th Story- Freak Me, I Can Make You Feel Good
3T- Anything, I Need You
Blue- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, All Rise
911- Bodyshakin, More Than a Woman
5th Story- Flip Reverse, Breathe Again
3T- Stuck On You, Why
A1- Same Old Brand New You. Everytime
Damage- Wonderful Tonight, Love II Love
Five- When The Lights Go Out, Keep on Movin
Blue- Breathe Easy, One love
All- Spirit in the Sky