It isn’t easy being 33 – or at least, it isn’t when you love Girls Aloud. I don’t mean “love” in an ironic, aren’t-I-amusing kind of way; I mean “love” because Girls Aloud make music that makes me want to dance like a chicken. I mean “love” as in, “I love the album so much I’m willing to be gouged for tickets, spend an evening in a soulless shed and develop severe back pain from crouching down so I don’t block the view of the kiddies behind me”. That’s love, and it means spending entire evenings feeling like Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 2. At 33, I am clearly getting too old for this shit.
I get the first blast of too-oldism when I pass the merchandise stall, see a few harried dads handing over fistfuls of tenners, and do a quick mental calculation: one dad plus two kids equals three tickets, two t-shirts, two programmes and no doubt lashings of fizzy pop. £150, easy, or even more if dad wasn’t fast enough and had to buy his tickets from eBay.
The second bit of too-oldism occurs when I’m waiting for the band to come on. It’s a typical arena gig, with big screens at the side of the stage so those in the back rows can see… the ads? When did gigs start including ads? Join the support band’s fanclub! Download ringtones! Buy Impulse deodorant! What the fuck?
The third Danny Glover moment is when the Girls finally appear on stage. As a red-blooded bloke I’m looking forward to seeing the Girls in various states of undress – which is, let’s be honest, why I’m at the gig rather than listening to the album on headphones and thinking things my wife would batter me senseless for thinking. But when they arrive on stage I’m thinking food, not rude.
There are three kinds of thin. There’s thin, there’s far too thin, and there’s holy-crap-someone-give-that-girl-a-cornish-pastie thin. Girls Aloud have moved decisively into that third category, and as the outfits get more skimpy the more obvious the lack of calories becomes. Instead of fantasising about Nadine, Nicola and a big tub of baby oil I’m thinking about giving them a good hearty meal, and possibly dessert too. Needless to say, that worries me immensely.
As for the tunes… well, they played the good ones, and they played the bad, dirgey ones too. They also did a horrific, karaoke-style medley of various eighties movie tunes (Footloose, Fame, the sort of things you’d expect), and an inspired, happy-clappy version of Kaiser Chiefs’ I Predict A Riot (last pop gig I was at, Sugababes did an Arctic Monkeys song. Maybe there’s a new EU regulation that means all pop bands need to do a Slightly Surprising Indie Cover).
Overall? The sound was awesomely bad, the dancing was endearingly amateurish, the between-songs banter was impressively inane and Nicola – the One Who Never Smiles – looked like a gin-soaked auntie throughout. Not the best gig I’ve ever been to, or even in the top ten (Sugababes were miles better, and it’s hard to top Muse for sheer live silliness), but you know what love’s like: if Girls Aloud tour in 2007, I’ll be first in the queue for tickets.