Who’d have thought the reformation of Steps would be cause for such drama? Reconciliations and recriminations played out on national telly last year as the fivesome met to talk about the break-up (H and Claire resigned in 2001, leaving Lisa, Faye and Lee to nurse wounds and harbour bone-deep resentments), test the waters with a greatest hits compilation, cover Dancing Queen in a nod to their dancing queen fanbase and announce a comeback tour which rather shockingly all but sold out.
I’m not entirely convinced it’s not just a cynical cash-in and certain band members wouldn’t happily scratch each other’s eyes out once the house lights come up, but who the hell cares when the Steps reunion tour is such a blast? Most of the costumes look cheap and none of them flatter Claire, whose weight issues have been well documented and who gets the biggest cheers from a crowd who grew up with Steps and know all about middle-aged spread. But it looks like they’ve spent a few bob on graphics, hydraulics and lighting, and they don’t skimp on the songs – opening with Here And Now, closing with Tragedy and bunging in pretty much every hit they had during their initial four-year run.
And oh what great pop songs they were! Snapped up by Pete Waterman as “Abba on speed”, the fivesome tethered memorable dance routines to tunes that were catchier than crabs, ranging from Kylie and Bee Gees covers to originals like Deeper Shade Of Blue and Stomp. The dance routines are all present and correct on the tour, which from where I was stood just a few rows back appeared to be half mimed and half live, divided into sections to give the backing dancers a chance to flex their muscles and the band to catch their breath.
The opening is po-faced futarism that makes you wonder if they’ve gone all arty farty, but they soon break out the banter. Lisa doesn’t cry like she did on the TV show (although there may be more tears to come when a second series covering the tour starts this Monday) but she and the others get giddy about the fact people still want to see them. Dodgy solos (Moves Like Jagger? Thanks but no thanks) and a pointless mash-up of Judas with Better The Devil You Know aside, it’s a nostalgia fest that does exactly what it says on the tin and proves that Steps are far from better best forgotten.
For more tour dates visit www.stepsofficial.co.uk