Peter Andre, East 17, Blazin’ Squad, Big Brovaz, Booty Luv, Boyzlife, S Club, B*Witched, 5ive and Vengaboys performing Stepback! 90s Concert at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Thursday 6th December 2018

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

For the best part of three and a half hours, a packed Motorpoint Arena sang and danced their way through the best of ten 90s artists and groups last night and despite the lack of an interval, they did not waiver.

Opening this nostalgic musical extravagancer was Peter Andre, the only act to have a band and backing singers accompany him as he gave a whistle stop tour through some of his biggest hits over the last twenty five years. As he ran around the stage with his boundless energy he opened with Flava which sent the crowd wild.

Jumping into the crowd and taking selfies with his fans, he was clearly enjoying himself. A mash up of This Is How We Do It and Return Of The Mack really hit the spot, whilst Perfect Night saw the mobile phone lights make their first appearance of the evening.

Before delivering Turn It Up from his 1995 album, Natural, he took the time to thank East 17, the band who gave him his first break in the UK when they invited him to support them on tour, before a medley of Bob Marley songs saw him finish his too short set with his timeless classic, Mysterious Girl.

After a quick break to clear the stage up next were 90s band, East 17. Now only a three piece they showed why they had sold 18 million albums and 1.8 million singles in the UK alone. With strong tabloid interest in their bad boy image compared to the ‘clean cut’ image of rivals Take That, Brain Harvey and Tony Mortimer left and rejoined the band on several occasions.

Opening with their 1992 hit, House Of Love, they followed up with crowd pleaser, It’s Alright. Leaving the stage to adorn their white parkas, they were back for their biggest hit, Stay Another Day which was surprisingly good and brought Christmas early to the Arena.

Following them were Blazin’ Squad who rose to fame in 2002, so not quite a 90s group. But with only five members touring including Marcel Somerville who has enjoyed recent exposure on ITV’s Love Island, they showcased hits such as Here 4 One, Flip Reverse and Standard Flow. Getting the crowd dancing with the flawless I’m Sorry, the mobile phone lights were out again for the group’s debut single and set closer Crossroads.

With the crowd well and truly warmed up, they were given two for the price of one, with MOBO award winning R&B group Big Brovaz being joined onstage by Booty Love comprising Cherise and Nadia. With four of them on stage it was hard to keep up as they moved from one end to the other.

Giving a tag team performance, they ramped up the atmosphere with the title track of Big Brovaz’s debut album, Nu Flow before hitting the crowd with Some Kinda Rush and a mass sing along to The Sound Of Music’s My Favourite Things. Booty Luv’s hit Boogie 2Nite had the crowd waving their arms in the air before the set was brought to an end with the up-tempo Baby Boy.

With barely time to breathe, the fifth act of the night was the one that got the most screams as Boyzlife, made up of Keith Duffy from Boyzone and Westlife’s Brian McFadden took to the stage. With their cheeky banter they were born entertainers and as World Of Our Own was quickly followed by Picture Of You, they reminded this crowd just how instantly memorable these two groups songs were. Boyzone’s I’m Never Gonna Say Goodbye was followed by Words before the duo finished with a mash up of When The Going Gets Tough and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl.

Following Boyzlife, S Club, featuring just three of the original members, Tina, Jo and Bradley had a difficult spot to fill. With weak vocals, the trio tried their very best with their hits such as S Club Party and Bring It All Back. There was a lovely Never Had A Dream Come True before they upped the tempo with Don’t Stop Movin’ and set closer Reach echoed around the Arena as generations came together to remember the classic 90s era.

Hugely successful Irish girl group, B*Witched were up next and as they demonstrated their superb vocals they did not look as though they had aged a day from the time that they released their debut single in 1997. Playing before a huge screen that promoted a charity for the impaired of hearing, it was unusual but refreshing to see two signers at the sides of the stage for those so impaired in the audience.

Opening with Jesse Hold On and Rollercoaster, they brought the brollies out for the chart topping Blame It On The Weatherman and their Irish dancing was given an airing for their debut hit, C’est La Vie.

Formed in 1997, 5ive had a number of hits, but they split in 2001 after selling ten million copies of their records worldwide. They were reunited in 2012 for the documentary series entitled The Big Reunion and in 2014, the group became a three piece with Richie, Scott and Sean taking to the stage last night.

Knowing how to still work a crowd, they delighted with opener We Will Rock You. Moving around the stage like teenagers they pleased with Got The Feelin’ and If Ya Gettin’ Down. By the time that Everybody Get Up rang around the Arena, those that were seated were on their feet where they stayed dancing for set closer Keep On Movin’.

5ive certainly know how to entertain and very nearly stole the show. Quite rightly on this performance they had earned their position as the penultimate act in this massive line up, but last night’s closing slot was handed over to Dutch Eurodance group Vengaboys.

Clad in sensational costumes, females Kim and Denise were part of the original line up with the two men being more recent additions. But if there was anyone daring to still be seated when they opened with Boom Boom Boom Boom, they were not seated for long. With their cheesy music, the Vengaboys revitalised this crowd, most of who had been dancing for in excess of three hours with the likes of We’re Going To Ibiza! and Shala Lala.

Bringing the house down with their party songs it was hard not to sing along, and by the time set closer We Like To Party (The Vengabus) was belted out, the Vengaboys had done just that; partied.

An extensive line up such as that at the Arena last night serves to show that despite changes and reductions in members in some groups, 90s music is still alive and kicking. Just ask the packed crowd at the Arena last night who would be more than willing to do it all again complete with crimped hair, glitter faces and neon glow sticks.