February 12, 2008

Rockin' Out With the Spice Girls

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Safely ensconced within the Prudential Center, protected from the blustery winds of southern New Jersey, the somewhat aged fans of the Spice Girls awaited the return of their childhood idols. The mission of these enthusiasts has always remained the same: to spice up the world.

The new phase of this mission began with an image of five little girls projected onto the Center’s screens, a reminder of simpler days. This nostalgia characterized much of Sunday night’s show, an extravaganza of girl power, friendship, peace, love and platforms.

Opening with “Spice Up Your Life,” the group dazzled the fanatical crowd with its general splendor. Posh looked astoundingly alien, expressionless and covered in gold paint. The rest of the gals looked happy to be back on stage. The dance moves were barely updated, to no one’s regret. They were awkward, synchronized and terrific fun. The group danced with a troupe of male dancers who highlighted the best (worst) of ’90s dancing, with the occasional Michael Jackson-themed interlude. “Stop” came next, triumphantly igniting the crowd’s collective girl power.

Clever stage platforms highlighted the music without being over the top (a tremendous feat). The screens featured visuals tied to the songs, once displaying a somewhat political scene of the British Pound dominating world currency behind “Who Do You Think You Are.” A frame of lights shifted forward illuminating a jazz section and five ladies “of the vamp,” which was done with much ’20s themed fanfare.

However, the pomp and circumstance was most successful when combined with strange British banter and spicy personalities (do forgive me). Each of the Spice Girls had their own solo. Posh’s performance was particularly underwhelming in light of the fact that she could not be bothered to learn a new song. Instead she stood in front of a wind machine while Madonna played. Scary Spice frightened everyone with an S&M themed solo featuring an unsuspecting chaperoning father. The best moment came when the audience discovered her sparkly mic was hidden in a whip. Baby Spice did a great bossonova style song, with a mod theme. Ginger may have bested the girls with a genius rendition of “It’s Raining Men,” sporting a red roller-rink costume and lots of “hunks.” Sporty remains the best singer of the bunch, and appeared to be trying to make a statement as she sang “I Turn To You,” completely alone and “hunk”-free.

Afterwards, they reconvened to sing “Mama I Love You,” in front of an admittedly beautiful montage of their mothers and children. This song highlighted the greatest element of the Spice Girls’ brilliance, and it is exactly what you might think it is, girl power. The Spice Girls’ music, despite the occasional bout of onstage nudity, is concerned with women, their friendships and their strength. It’s not about a “scrub” or “sk8ter boi.” It called for girls to be themselves and to have fun. Towards the end, the group led the audience in a true, all-out, dance-party-love-fest (hugging was involved). It was simple, joyful, awkward, girly and a bit spicy. The refrain “You gotta get with my friends,” rang out next and completed the spell. We could just be thousands of fanatical kids in ill-fitting sparkly tights bopping around without a care in the world. So, did the Spice Girls spice up the world? Mission accomplished.