The Boys Are Back Tour – Live Review – Hull Bonus Arena
By Kirsty Reid, February 2020
Pulses were racing and hordes of girls screaming as Hull’s Bonus Arena transported us back to the Nineties on Friday evening.
There’s something of a trend for nostalgic gigs at the moment and, after a hectic week in the office, the chance to see four of the Nineties biggest pop bands take to the stage was just what the doctor ordered.
Many will remember seeing a1, Damage, 911 (top image) and 5ive in the TV show, The Big Reunion, which gave them a platform to perform some of their best hits – reminding us just how brilliant they are. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that these Nineties heartthrobs, who once graced the pages of Smash Hits, have teamed up for a nationwide tour.
Those boyband lovers who had life-sized posters of a1’s Ben Adams (ahem) among others, plastered on their bedroom walls are all grown up now – as are the performers themselves. But age is just a number, right? Though the boys are men now, there was no doubt they could still get the crowd buzzing.
Complete with original dance moves, British-Norwegian band a1 kicked things off with a performance of their number one hit, ‘Same Old Brand New You’. A firm favourite of mine. Most of the crowd were up on their feet dancing and singing along from the start. The group’s 30-minute set left out their newer material instead focusing on their past hits. Other ballads from their back catalogue included ‘Summertime’, ‘Caught in the Middle’, ‘Like a Rose’, ‘Everytime’, ‘Ready or Not’ (complete with audience-friendly dance moves) and a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’. Though vocally brilliant, the group’s choreography and energy were not on par with the evening’s other acts.
After a short interval, Damage took to the stage. Despite now being a four-piece, following Coreé Richards’ departure, nothing is compromised. With 11 hit singles under their belt, the group brought an urban mix to the evening. It’s safe to say, they had girls swooning over their smooth moves and soulful vocals as they performed ‘Forever’ and ‘Wonderful Tonight’. Other crowd-pleasers included ‘Love II Love’ and, of course, ‘Ghetto Romance’.
Next on the bill were the incredibly energetic 911. Lee, Spike and Jimmy all brought their A-game, and then some, as they revisited tracks including ‘Party People… Friday Night’, ‘Love Sensation’, ‘More Than a Woman’ and ‘Bodyshakin’’ – using slower tracks ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ and ‘A Little Bit More’ as a chance to catch their breath (they are all in their forties now, don’t forget) before jumping straight back into an upbeat classic. The sprightly trio gave a faultless performance and really got the crowd going – especially after some cheeky thrusting to Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Jump On It’.
Last, but by no means least, 5ive (or should that be 3hree?), took to the stage. With Abz and Jason “J” having left the group, Scott, Ritchie and Sean delivered an epic set of pop classics. The hordes of screaming girls certainly got louder as 5ive belted out hits including ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Slam Dunk (Da Funk)’, ‘Lay All Your Lovin’ on Me’, ‘Got the Feelin’’ and ‘Everybody Get Up’. The group finished their set with a message of ‘be kind’ and a rendition of ‘Keep On Moving’.
Transporting my generation back to a time pre-mortgage, pre-children and pre-responsibilities, The Boys Are Back was not only a perfect night of Nineties nostalgia, it was refreshingly fun.