Review: S Club Brought the Wholesome Fun to Dublin Last Night

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S Club at the 3Arena

“Really? You? You’re going to S Club 7?” That is the question I was asked repeatedly yesterday by people in disbelief that I, a man who plays guitar and drones on and on about Leonard Cohen, would be anywhere near the 3Arena last night.

I certainly have been known to cast a cynical eye on the world of pop music from time to time, but sometimes it’s ok to just enjoy a tune.

In fact, S Club 7 became a kitchen favourite of my wife and I during lockdown and, strangely, last night felt like a final closing of that loop.

Standing in the queue outside the 3Arena, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of people yawning. It was Monday. We’re older since we last S Club partied. We get tired earlier now, and that’s ok.

The buzz that hit you inside the arena however was exactly what we all came for. Double denim, pink flairs and pigtails were everywhere. I know so-called 90s style is technically back in vogue, so maybe that was it. Either way, we were home.

There were certainly all ages in the crowd, but the bulk seemed to be nestled somewhere in their 30s.

When S Club took the stage at around 8.40, the yawning millenials I saw in the queue were transformed to giddy revellers.

‘S Club Party’ exploded through the speakers, followed by ‘Love Ain’t Gonna Wait For You.’ The now-five-piece group looked and moved brilliantly, and they sounded great... a little too great.

The pop-cynic in me started to rear its head a lot sooner than I expected - they were clearly lip-syncing. I don’t think they were for the entire show. It became hard to tell. Certainly some moments seemed live, others not so much. Maybe I’m wrong and they’re just that good. Maybe.

At that point, I looked around and saw thousands of people having fun. I made the conscious decision to join them in the party, and not worry about what was live and what wasn’t. I mean, it is a throwback to the 90s and early 00s after all. Everybody mimed back then, so I guess we were getting the authentic experience!

‘You’re My Number One’ came next in the set, and my goodness, I had forgotten all about that one before the show. The cynic had left the building at that point. I was lost in silly pop heaven.

The lip-syncing was still obvious as they ran through ‘Natural’ and ‘Sunshine’ but I didn’t care.

The S Clubbers have always prided themselves on an almost unbearable positivity in their music. That’s exactly what they brought the Dublin audience last night as anthemic pop-banger came one after the other.

Although the 'Good Times' tour was originally announced by all seven members to celebrate the bands 25th anniversary, Paul Cattermole sadly died in April from heart issues. Hannah Spearritt subsequently dropped out after his death.

Still, a place was made for Paul in the show as a video of him performing ‘Good Times’ was played on the screens, the band and crowd eventually joining in. It was a poignant reminder amid the party that nothing is forever. Enjoy what we can.

You often hear people talk about the first time they heard The Beatles, or the Stones. I’m not saying hearing ‘Bring It All Back’ on the radio for the first time is comparable to those cultural touchstones, but I remember it vividly. The DJ played it twice in a row because he loved it so much. I’ve not heard anyone do that since.

When they played ‘Bring It All Back’ midway in the night, that kid listening to the radio (after bedtime) was thrilled.

‘Reach’ was, honestly, some of the best craic I’ve ever had at a gig. There isn’t much more I can say there. Play it at my funeral.

The tour won’t win any awards for ground breaking stage designs. There were some decent lights, big screens with graphics that sometimes looked like late 90s computer screen savers (again, the authentic experience, I guess?) and their costumes were a bit transition-year-school-musical.

I don’t think anyone came for the costumes or a U2 Last Vegas style spectacle though. We came to have fun.

Last night, S Club brought us exactly that, for a little while.

And we were in bed before 12, which was nice.

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