Steps rolls back the years during poptastic show at London's O2 Arena - review
They're calling it their 'Party On The Dancefloor Tour' and Steps sure deliver on that promise. This show, their first since the Christmas one five years ago, has a playlist to die for, ranging through 'Deeper Shade Of Blue', 'Stomp', 'Love's Got A Hold On My Heart' and 'One For Sorrow' to camptastic covers of 'Better The Devil You Know', 'Chain Reaction' and 'Tragedy' – all delivered with throbbing lights, thumping beats and the signature dance routines that set them apart from other pop combos when they first burst into the charts in the late '90s.
The 'Ultimate Tour' oftenfelt like they were just going through the motions to promote a greatest hits compilation while that same year's 'Christmas With Steps' show was scaled-down and overly cheesy even for the mistresses and masters of the genre. But 20 years on from their first chart placing Claire, Lisa, Faye, H and Lee seem to be having a ball this time round, bolstered no doubt by the fans' warm embrace of their fabulous new Tears On The Dancefloor album.
At their O2 show, as on all the tour dates, the show was a mix of old favourites and new stompers like the almighty 'Scared Of The Dark'- which got things off to a dramatic start as torchbearers passed through the crowd and Steps exploded onto the stage in a blaze of disco glory. The staging was very Take That circa 'Relight My Fire' whilst a Spanish-themed section was very Madonna and a bit with dancing robots was a direct steal from Kylie. But who cares about original theatrics when the music's this good.
Getting a rare outing since it heralded the arrival of the energetic fivesome in 1997 the Lee-led '5,6,7,8' was a highlight, as was the genius idea of the girls doing the Barbra/Donna acapella intro to 'Enough Is Enough'before bursting into the Darren Hayes-penned 'No More Tears On The Dancefloor'. Ending the night with 'Tragedy'was as expected as it was jubilant and H having a crack at 'Despacito' as unexpected as it was fun.
The latest album's a cracker, especially in its new Crying At The Disco Deluxe Edition with extra tracks, and the new music sounded great live. Claire's vocals were, of course, staggering. Lee acquitted himself well with his boot-scootin' rap and Faye was in lovely voice. H and Lisa hit a couple of bum notes but I put that down to the fact they were so excitable about playing to such an enthusiastic crowd, plus it must be mighty hard to execute all those moves and stay on perfect pitch.
Cowboy hats off to them singing live when they could easily have mimed and a big yee-haw for the return of Steps. With summer dates already sorted for 2018 it's cheering to know they'll be keeping the party going.
Steps tour the UK until 10 December.
Words by Simon Button
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