CONCERT REVIEW Spice Girls Are Back!

I Needed a Little Zest in My Life

Spice Girls

TD Banknorth Garden

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008

Think back to 1997. Who were the five coolest, sexiest women of that year? If you were in the vicinity of TD Banknorth Garden last Wednesday night, the answer would have literally popped out at you from every Union Jack mini-dress and four-inch platform shoe in sight: the Spice Girls, of course, and they’re back. Young women who were barely ten years old when the attractive, feisty quintuplet released their first single (the now timeless “Wannabe”) came out in droves to watch the resurrection of Posh, Baby, Sporty, Scary, and Ginger after a ten year hiatus, which started in 1998 after Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell left on claims of exhaustion and difference of opinion.

America fell hard for the Spice Girls in January of 1997 when they released “Wannabe” in the US after several months of unprecedented success in England. Young fans welcomed the group’s debut album SPICE with Hannah Montana-like excitement and gave the girls enough revenue and momentum to pump out a second album, Spice World, in conjunction with a movie of the same name. By 1998, the Spice Girls were a global phenomenon; their adoration was still unfathomable on January 30th in Boston.

Fans went wild even before the group came on stage. Some girls in homemade matching T-shirts shouted out various lyrics across the arena, while others shrieked at the video advertisements for Roberto Cavalli, who designed all of the costumes for the tour. When the Spice Girls finally came on stage an hour late, a deafening, high pitched scream erupted and thirty thousand hands were in the air. One fan even held up a sign that read “Thank You Spice Girls.”

The group opened with “Spice Up Your Life,” a hit single from their second album. The dancing was less energetic than it was in their late ’90s prime; there were a lot of standstill ballet-inspired moves, and pole dancing combined with the waving of obscenely large feather puffs. The audience seemed not to notice, or at least not to care, about the overly gaudy and outdated dance moves. Instead, they went wild for everything, particularly “Say You’ll Be There,” which included some fabulous breakdancing by thirty or so male dancers.

The women, all in their thirties and four of them mothers, had clearly aged but they still looked great. I had difficulty taking my jealous eyes off of Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham’s legs, which were the size of shish kabob sticks and clad in gold lamé leggings. Immediately upon arriving at the concert, I noticed that my one homage to the 1990s — a sparkly gold belt — did not sufficiently demonstrate my devotion to the Spice Girls and their famously outrageous wardrobes. Real fans wore cheetah print leotards, patent leather jumpers, and black mini dresses. I was not surprised to see, however, that the Spice Girls had updated their outfits and hairdos for the year 2008.

Cavalli did a fabulous job designing for both Emma Bunton’s larger thighs and Scary Spice’s new six pack while simultaneously updating and staying true to their original looks. He helped Baby Spice with her baby weight by creating longer skirts for her doll-like dresses, and updated Sporty’s formerly only Adidas wardrobe to match her successful solo career as a techno singer (she sang her highly popular dance single, “I Turn To You,” for her solo number). Ginger, however, still looked tacky in a belted bathing suit and white platform boots during her not-half-bad solo rendition of “It’s Raining Men.”

All of the women sang songs from their solo careers during the concert, except the stiff Victoria Beckham (who opted for a catwalk routine during which she pretended to talk on a cell phone). No one in the audience knew the words to Scary’s song, but she commanded a surprising amount of attention by pulling a volunteer from the audience, latching him to a ladder, and dancing around him while swinging a large leather whip. The fans were relatively supportive of these mediocre attempts at branching out, but Mel. C received the warmest applause for her solo, which did well when it was released in the U.S. in 1999. The group also opted to sing some of their later singles, produced after Geri Halliwell left the group, and I found these very displeasing. The ticket price was high, and I wanted to hear the songs of my past, not unknown, boring ballads.

The last couple of numbers, which included the long awaited “Wannabe,” perked up the audience. With the first utterance of the words “Zig-a-zig-ah,” I was whisked back into my childhood and felt the pure, unadulterated joy that only exists in the mind of a carefree ten-year-old. As I looked at the five women who taught me about girl power and individuality, I felt young again. The feeling that came over me was something like what my mother might feel if she saw The Beatles again. I felt reverence for five amazing singers who took the world by storm, and did so in four-inch platform heels.