FIRST TASTE OF SPICE IS NICE
West Palm Beach, FL - Coral Sky Amphitheater
WEST PALM BEACH - Just when you thought all possible trivia questions had been exhausted,
the opener of the group's first-ever North American tour at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre suggester one more.
If you make them perform near 100F heat under hot stage lights, which Spice Girl will sweat the most? The
answer is Victoria - a.k.a. Posh Spice. Following a Star Wars-esque light show opening, the four weren't halfway through their
opening number `If You Can't Dance' before Posh looked like she'd been dumped in nearby Lake Okeechobee.
By song two, `Who Do You Think You Are', we had an answer to the musical question: ``What do you suppose Posh
looks like without makeup?'' Kind of rosy-cheeked and less hard, actually.
Certainly, the Spice Girls couldn't have arranged a hotter welcome to North America. South Florida is suffering
through its hottest June in nearly 50 years, with draught conditions and temperatures in the mid-90s at the beach.
That didn't deter real Spice fans however. Hoping to be first in line for general admission area on the grass,
young girls (and some boys) and their parents sat on blankets and chairs from 8 a.m. Sunscreen and Kool-Aid only go so far,
and 12 hours later, some of them were suffering from heat stroke and being hauled away in ambulances.
Then, of course, there's the burning question everyone wants to know in advance of their July 11 Toront date.
What do the Spice Girls sound like, now that Geri Halliwell -a.k.a. Ginger-has quit? At intermission, I heard kids complaining,
``They just don't sound the same.''
But let me paraphrase that recent detergent ad. ``I can't hear the difference. Can you hear the difference?''
As someone whose kid went through a phase of playing Spiceworld to death (he's into Aqua now), I feel qualified as anyone
else about to turn 40 to say that the songs sounded as pleasant and light as they do on the record. Stop sounded like vintage
dance-pop Madonna, `Spice Up Your Life' was Mimai Sound Machine-lite, `Too Much' sounded just as mildly moody as it did in
the opening of the Spiceworld movie.
The speaks, of course, to just what polished and slick product you get with the imprematur Spice Girls. It's
the reason there used to be rumors that the girls were a Milli Vanilli act. (Listening to Emma's weak solo on Where Did Our
Love Go put the lie to this rumor.)
But in the wake of Ginger's departure, on thing did seem true. Reputed arch-enemy Melanie B does seem to be
the de facto leader of the group. She got to scream things at the crowd of 20,000 like, ``Is there any Girl Power out there?''
and ``Are you ready to party?''
All that said there is one thing about the Spice Girls' show that was absolutely dumbfounding. These four
women get in and out of their clothes faster than Madonna on a date.
There were three wardrobe changes in the first act alone - none of which took them longer than a minute and
12 second (I counted). One minute Posh is strutting in Spandex, Baby in lavender go-go attire, Scary in yellow and black bellbottoms
and matching halter and Sporty's in bike gear.
(They were in these outfits when they called out The Spice Boys, dressalike dancers whom they rode horsey-style
across the stage to `Do It'. No matter their orientation, guys just can't wear lavender minis well).
The next moment Baby is wearing a `Baby' tank top with black mini-dress, Sporty is all navy blue with a vest,
Posh is psychedelic skin-tight mini and Scary is in some kind of tiget stripe zootsuit.
And the next, they're all in some kind of big-shouldered things that look like Bob Mackire spacesuits.
I think I speak for all men who've ever waited for women to get dressed when I say that this talent alone
makes the Spice Girls role models without compare.
FAB FOUR DELIVER SOLID SHOW
Toronto, ON - Molson Amphitheatre
July 12, 1998 The event has happened and it's now officially over. Some said they wouldn't
last long enought to get to this point, others say it's just the beginning.
The Spice Girls have now officially proven to the city of Toronto that they can play live, and with a band.
No overdubs, no backing tapes, just pure and unadulterated Girl Power.
For a band criticized for over-commercialization, Saturday night at the Molson Amphitheatre was all about
the music..mostly. The Spice Girls managed to wow and amaze the sold-out audience of 17,000 through 17 songs, a three song
encore, and a half-hour intermission - added to squeeze in another impulse t-shirt purchase.
The biggest question for the tour was how the band would handle Geri's recent departure. The extra vocal parts
were all handled perfectly by the remaining four. The video screens still showed the odd close up and the posters, t-shirts
and tour book still all featured photos of Ginger. Take it for what it is, but it's nice to see the rest of the band felt
they didn't have to rewrite history just because one member quit.
Musically, most of the material resembled the arrangements and mixed featured on the albums. The musicians
would strike up instrumental verses or add percussion breaks occassionally, to cover the costume changes.
For `Say You'll Be There', the girls missed a great oppurtunity to break from `playing the album verison'
syndrome. The mix they performed in Spice World: The Movie, under the watchful eye of Jools Holland, would have fit perfectly
on their current tour.
Tempting the male members of the audience, at the beginning of `Naked', the band pondered the question: ``Do
you think we should take our clothes off?'' To which another member yells, ``It's time for everyone to get naked.''
Unfortunately, at this point the video screen wasn't ladened with one of Ginger's numerous `artful photo shots'.
The girls, instead, arranged themselves `naked', behind chairs and sang the whole song from that position at the top of the
stage. The fact that their outfits weren't skin coloured only helped ruin the nudity illusion.
The audience participation took quite a while to work up.
During her solo rendition of `Where Did Our Love Go?', Baby - who dedicated the song to ``all the babies in
the audience'' - managed to dance with a male member of the audience who looked either over-awed or over-embarrassed, depending
on who you ask.
Just after the new song, the raggae sounding, `Walk Of Life' the group engaged in what could only be described
as English pantomine - which, considering the target audience's age, is wholly understandable. First, there was the pre-requisite,
`which side's louder', then the two Mels - Scary and Sporty - went missing, with Posh and Baby egging the audience on to find
them. ``Where's Melanie? Is she over there?''
As Posh and Baby left the stage for a costume change, Mel and Mel eventually found their way back to the stage,
and proceeded to blow the audience away with an excellent cover of the Aretha-Annie Lennox tune `Sisters (Are Doing It For
Themselves', complete with guitar solo. It was one of the sole non-choreographed moments of the evening where the two Mels
looked at ease.
This left the audience whooping, yelling, and finally up on their feet. The grils managed to main the momentum
through the next number, `Spice Up Your Life', with introduction by Scary Spice: ``It's ten o'clock, that means it's time
to get my horns on. It's also time to Spice Up Your Life.''
For some reason, after working so hard to get the audience `into it' they decided to slow things down and
followed up with the ballad, `Mama'.
The encore consisted of the new single, `Viva Forever' which was voice-over introduced with a Blade Runner
quote: The light that burns twice as strong lasts half as long, and you have burned so ver strong. `Never Give Up On The Good
Times' followed and a rousing cover of Sister Sledge's `We Are Family'closed the night, with the Fab Four hugging and kissing
One of the high points of the evening was the guy on the video screens performing sign language to all the
songs. He provided constant amusement through the course of the evening, dancing and swinging and makind faces through the
The Spice Girls have done it. They have entered the realm of legitimate band. However, the show felt like
it was too slickly produced and at times seemed stiffly choreographed. Regardless, the inevitable live album and live video
of the 1998 Spice Girls tour will no doubt sell bucket loads and will give those who missed the live show a change to see
what it was all about.