As a nation we owe them a debt. They helped propel British music to the forefront internationally once again, and were part of the whole cool Britannia scene that swept the globe. Living overseas at the time I can attest to that.
So with a Jennifer Saunders penned story, Judy Craymer (the genius behind Mamma Mia) producing, and the backing and blessing of Mr Simon Fuller, this should then be another $2bn cash cow super-fire hit. Shouldn’t it? Hmmmm.
The story is based on Viva and her three friends who have a girl group that has made it through to the studio stages of an X Factor-style program. She is then manipulated by the media machine into going solo in the competition and dumping her friends. The story moves briefly to Spain and then ends up back in the UK for the final of the talent show, where girl power overcomes the evil media machine. (I really don’t think that I am giving anything away here.)
The dedicated Spice fans that were with me did not recognise the first two songs. Not really a great start! Added to this, the vocals were weak in places and got only marginally better as the show moved on. The story also juddered along with no natural flow, the Spanish sequence was solely to facilitate a big dance number based on Spice Up Your Life, and the set came across as basic and a bit cheap.
It is not all bad news. There are some moments of genuine hilarity, notably the love scene between the middle-aged couple singing Two Become One. This had the crowd in stiches, but in part that was also due to an impromptu sing along from the audience. Stop was also a genuine crowd-pleaser, but I can’t for the life of me remember the context it was sung in, though do remember being punched for not singing along and doing the hand movements like everyone else around me.
Oddly enough, the stand out musical performance came not from the girls, but from the male love interest singing Viva Forever. The producers are smart cookies and will no doubt be tweaking the show over the coming months, and my opinion should make it more audience friendly, with a few more participation numbers. They should also draft in a couple of top singers. Mel C did a stint in Blood Brothers, which is now closing, and would be an obvious choice.
I did a straw poll after the show and opinions were directly correlated to alcohol consumed:
1 -3 drinks – STOP
3-8 drinks – Wannabe (a decent show)
8+ drinks – Viva Forever!
Second Degree paid for his own ticket and bottle of water. He really wishes he'd also had a couple of Jaegar Bombs and a pint of wine beforehand.