From the opening trio of 'Spice Up Your Life', 'Stop' and 'Say You'll Be There', it’s clear that this isn't going to be the slickest of arena shows. The girls alternate between cranking out basic, year-one-at Sylvia-Young's dance moves and prowling round the stage in a ramshackle mob. Only Mel C's voice seems to reach the rafters of the 02 Arena, but, with the crowd desperate to sing along to every word, nobody seems to care.
For the most part, the pop vixens don't fiddle with the brilliance of their back catalogue. 'Too Much' is reworked into a finger-clicking big band number, 'Who Do You Think You Are' is given a thunderous house makeover, and 'Headlines' is bolstered by some surprisingly rocky guitar riffs, but, other than that, everything here could have been vacuum-packed in 1997 and reopened ten minutes before the gig started. Hell, Ginger even dusts off her old Union Jack dress for one number.
Because the Spice flame burned hard and fast – they only released ten singles before disintegrating in 2000 - tonight's set can't escape the curse of padding. A disco medley in which the girls take karaoke stabs at 'We Are Family', 'Celebration' and 'Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)' could most politely be described as an exuberant mess, while the popstrels' solo numbers are a predictably hit-and-miss affair. Ginger's Saturday night at G-A-Y rendition of 'It's Raining Men' is surprisingly satisfying, but Baby's solo hit 'Maybe', a sixties-style pop romp, feels slight in an arena setting. Scary's decision to holler 'Are Gonna Go My Way' while lapping at the groin of a male audience member who looks as if he goes another way entirely, meanwhile, is unintentionally hilarious.
Nevertheless, for the most part, tonight's gig is as much fun as a ruthlessly-planned, expensively-staged arena show can be. Their bawdy banter might be heavily-scripted, and the crowd's decision to greet Posh's every note with a deafening roar (Well, she is the most famous, you know!) is somewhat unnerving, but, over two hours, these five women manage to convince us that being a Spice Girl is still the most fun, special, thrilling thing in the world. After all that's passed during the last decade, that's a pretty impressive achievement.