Spice Girls fry up tasty processed cheese
At GM Place, Sunday, December 2
It's been nearly a decade since the Spice Girls opted for early retirement, and in that time the invisible forces of pop culture have worked their magic. Now, everything that was originally so suspect about the act - its almost complete lack of talent, its prefabbed origins, and the cinematic horror show that was Spice World - actually seems quaint in a time when the world is being ruined by Iraq, global warming, and, most of all, the Pussycat Dolls.
So when the original lineup - and who ever thought those words would actually thrill? - of Ginger, Scary, Baby, Posh, and Sporty first appeared at GM Place on the opening night of the Spice Girls' reunion tour, it was impossible not to feel a rush at the sight of the icons in the flesh. Or at least their fleshlike encasings.
Flanked by two elevated side huts where the backing musicians cowered, the Girls posed and sashayed like they were auditioning for Britain's Next Top Model, occasionally striding out onto a runway that led into the audience. During these forays into the unwashed rabble, Posh, the most androidlike, earned the greatest amount of cheers, probably because you can't turn on Entertainment Tonight without seeing her perma-tanned face and silicone-pumped pontoons. Baby had the most negligible presence, while Scary's was the most formidable, especially when she revealed a stomach that looked like it belonged to Survivor: China's Courtney Yates. Ginger looked like somebody's well-meaning mom, while Sporty did most of the heavy lifting, somehow appropriate given her pumped-up guns. An hour into the show, Ms. Melanie Chisholm even accomplished what her bandmates had previously failed to do: she actually held a note.
Powerhouse versions of the hits - and there were more of these than you might care to remember - prevailed in a set that opened with the hypertropicalia of "Spice Up Your Life" and the Motown jive of "Stop". A new song, "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)", was a good argument for the Girls never again being let near a recording studio. Meanwhile, a midshow segment of solo efforts (aka time to get an $8 cup of draft) brought Ginger in sexy-soccer-mom short-shorts belting out "It's Raining Men", Sporty doing her house-indebted 2000 single "I Turn to You", and a whip-wielding Scary scarily flagellating herself on Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way". During the latter, the leopard-print-clad Spice strapped a suspiciously blasé shmuck from the audience into a ladderlike contraption on-stage, and gyrated her babymaker at him like Lindsay Lohan trying to get out of a DUI.
But it was seeing the Roberto Cavalli-clad cougars united that warmed the cockles, whether it was during padding like a medley of "Celebration/That's the Way (I Like It)/We Are Family" or when they were working candy-striped stripper poles during "2 Become 1". Throughout the show, a gaggle of male dancers distracted from the main event, although they did come in handy when the Girls went looking for hired help to lead around on diamond-encrusted leashes.
There was plenty of triple-processed cheese, too, such as the home-video footage of the Girls playing with their mini-Spices during "Mama". The most emotional moment was during this megasappy hit, when Sporty, Ginger, et al came together in a group hug. For a brief moment, something like real happiness registered on their faces, or at least the non-Botoxed parts. It was almost as if the Spice Girls really wanted to be there.