Sugababes live at The Point, Dublin

The Point is stuffed with row upon row of kids with glow sticks, light up bunny ears, pop corn and hassled-looking parents. They’re waiting for the Sugababes. And waiting. And waiting.

Panto season seems to have come early to Dublin this year. The Point is stuffed with row upon row of kids with glow sticks, light up bunny ears, pop corn and hassled-looking parents. They’re waiting for the Sugababes. And waiting. And waiting. One particularly miserable father even starts a slow hand-clap which spreads around the venue. For some, thoughts go back to that fateful night at the Olympia, for others thoughts turn to needing the toilet. The truth is probably a lot less dramatic – first night of a first headlining tour and nerves are fraught. Any worries are unfounded. This is the perfect environment for the Sugababes franchise.

The loss of a second original member has proved to be not such a problem, and while the departure of the spiky Mutya has made them a potentially less interesting proposition, it was never likely to provoke mass hysteria. So tonight is all about smiling, waving and pop music. It’s not a great spectacle – a few screens, fluorescent lights, half-arsed choreography and a muddy sound do not make a show – and the band themselves have still to prove themselves natural performers, even after all this time.

In contrast to most of these kind of events though, this is actually more about substance than style. The music, you see, is fantastic – a cavalcade of some of the finest pop tunes to come our way this decade. ‘Hole In The Head’, ‘Round Round’, ‘Too Lost In You’, ‘In The Middle’, the still remarkable ‘Overload’ – they just keep coming. ‘Stronger’ is accompanied by footage from their Comic Relief trip to Africa, and they use their costume change to show the Make Poverty History three-second click film. It may prove little more than an excuse for the kids to scream at anybody they recognise (Bob Geldolf yes, Damon Albarn no) but at least they’re trying.

The absence of their Arctic Monkeys cover is a disappointment, but they do provide the surreal sight of a huge number of under 10s jumping up and down to Primal Scream’s ‘Rocks’. By the time that familiar Gary Numan sample kicks into life to remind us just what a staggering comeback they pulled off in ‘Freak Like Me’, even slow hand-clap dad is up and swaying. The trio stand at the front of the stage, hair billowing in the manufactured wind, and you know that, while this will never be their natural home, for the seven-year-old girls in flashing bunny ears this was probably the greatest night of their lives… at least until Girls Aloud come to town.

Pic: Cathal Dawson

 

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