90s cheesy pop at its best – review of The Big Reunion concert

I don’t know about you, but I loved the 90s. And the Noughties. The cheesy pop music of the era was (and will always be) my favourite music of all time. Ok, it’s not cool to love boybands, girlbands and one-hit-wonders, but a catchy tune will get you in the end – and cheesy music is notorious for its earworm-ability. Maybe it is because that was “my” era – I became a teenager in the 90s and a student in the noughties – so I actually had my finger ‘on the pulse’ back then, and I think that’s where my taste has remained.

So you can understand my excitement when The Big Reunion TV was announced earlier this year. I couldn’t believe that ALL my favourite pop groups were reforming and that I would be able to watch all the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty of the process. I’d already watched some of the Steps documentary and had been ‘lucky enough’ to see them perform at Newmarket Races last year (here’s my blog post about the Steps reunion concert) but I never thought I’d get the chance to see the likes of the fiery Atomic Kitten and the famously fallen-out 5ive getting back together for my viewing pleasure.

thebigreunion the big reunion gig concert atomic kitten 5ive five bewitched liberty x 911 blue honeyz cheesy pop

Last September, I was back at my old uni for one last visit, and coincidentally it was Freshers’ Week. Which at my uni means that they pull out all the stops at their live venue to get all the new students in (they’ve got newbie Jake Bugg playing soon). And oddly enough, I’d just had the best day of my life (traffic lights going in my favour, rain stopping when I stepped outside, the jeans I’d wanted on sale for a couple of quid in my size etc), in fact it was a suspiciously good day and it was about to get even better when I walked past the Students’ Union and saw that my two ultimate bands 5ive and S Club 7 were going to be performing that very evening! Me and 3 pals blagged our way into the student-only venue that evening and really gave those 18-year-old students a run for their money – singing along, doing all the dance moves, weeping a little etc etc. The show was amazing for me, albeit with only 2 members of 5ive (it’s ok it was Abz and Scott, tasty!) and 2 members of S Club 7 (again, Jo and Bradley, the best ones!) – but for me it was close enough, and made my teenage dreams come true.

So put yourself in my place as I settled into my seat at the Hammersmith Apollo on Tuesday evening, clutching my golden ticket to my chest, about to watch 6 of my all-time favourite pop groups perform live, just for me. Ok, there were a few other people there, but I really felt that the producers of ITV2 had sat themselves around a boardroom table and said “Now, what does Cassiefairy want to see on telly?” and then made it happen. I was happy to see some celebs in the audience enjoying the show with the rest of us including This Morning‘s Matt Johnson – yes, the only fella I’ve ever left my light on for on Take Me Out, was sitting in front of me, swoon! I was pretty excited when kids TV favourite presenter Andi Peters skipped onto the stage to host the show and could hardly breathe as 5ive opened the concert with booming bass that rattled through your body and fireworks that temporarily blinded you.

matt johnson five 5ive atomic kitten kerry katona thebigreunion the big reunion itv2

Right away I was transported back to being a platform-shoe-wearing, chart-show-recording, slush-puppy-drinking, Ginger-Spice-haired little girl again and loved every minute of the two-hour concert, as one-by-one the bands took to the stage and performed all of their greatest hits. Liberty X delighted the fellas by singing Just A Little in their PVC catsuits, while 911 got the girls screaming as they thrusted their way through Bodyshakin’. The crowd Irish-jigged along to double-denim favourites Bewitched and held aloft mobile phones (oh how times have changed) and swayed along to the Honeyz harmonising to Finally Found. My personal highlights were 5ive, looking as gorgeous as ever and getting the mainly female crowd all hot under the collar, as they belted out hit after hit, and I found myself surprised at how much I enjoyed watching Atomic Kitten. I didn’t know I was such as fan, as the lyrics came flooding back to me and I even shed a tear as I watched these three best friends having the time of their lives on stage. The fact that Kerry Katona can actually sing was a bonus and the crowd squealed extra loudly every time Kerry took to the mic. A more supportive crowd you could not have found.

I will never forget being showered with glitter and streamers at the end of the show, and I was as emotional as the stars on stage as they hugged each other and visibly made their peace with their troubled pop-pasts. I loved every minute, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m that cheesy-pop-lovin’-9os-child, but because we’ve watched their difficult journey to get to this point through the documentary, and their genuine honesty about their history in the bands was refreshing to see. I think I can safely say that this is unmissable TV and compelling viewing, and if you haven’t already seen the ITV2 show please do catch up with it on iPlayer if you get the chance, because there’s still another month of the documentary before the live show airs; plenty more bust-ups, admissions and tears before a triumphant return to the stage. I just hope they bring out the whole series on DVD!

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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