Review: The Next Step

   

Steps Live At Wembley Arena, 5th November 1999

by David Lucas

Pre-concert
Along with my friends, I arrived at Wembley tube station at about seven o'clock. As we were walking down Wembley way, we noticed the wide range of people hurrying to get to the arena. One of the most embarrassing things was the large numbers of ten-year-old folks there. One group of ten-year-olds had a banner, but the one my group had made was so much better. One side said "Claire you're steptacular" and the other said "Happy Birthday Lisa" (because it was her birthday that day). Sad, I know, but it was fun.

Support acts
First up on support were Fred and Roxy, a duo of sisters. They played quite nice pop songs that sounded like S Club 7 mixed with the Spice Girls. I'd give them about a seven out of ten, they weren't particularly attractive, but the songs were alright.

Second on was a boy band called Point Break. Their songs were like 5ive tunes (mainly "Everybody Get Up"). They supposedly had a band, but the band (all female) were also dancers so I have my doubts. I'd probably give them five out of ten.

Last were Marvin and Tamara. I'd heard of them (a girl-boy duo) before so at least there were familiar to me. Marvin is useless, like a younger version of Glamma Kid. Their music was like Cleopatra's. I'd give them six or seven out of ten, because they got the crowd going well.

Steps!
As the huge video screens either side of the stage did a countdown from 30 to 1, the club beats turned into "Love's Got A Hold On My Heart". Two of the dancers were running around the arena (through the aisles) with huge blow-up balloons. Then, from the back of the arena, came five mysterious figures, in carnival costumes and masks. As they walked down the aisle next to us, we recognised them as Lisa and H! Along with two dancers and two bodyguards they walked to the stage, joined by the others from the other sides.

This was so cool because they were right next to us. When they were on stage they took off their masks to reveal who they were (although everyone had guessed already, judging by the screaming!) As they started singing "Love's Got A Hold On My Heart", the audience were on their feet, starting the first of many dance routines. The dancers on stage were also joining in with the carnival spirit. I also noticed that Claire now sports a long pony tail.

Second song was "Last Thing On My Mind", greeted by huge cheers from the crowd. Cue more dancing, singing along, and lots of screaming! After that, the dancers went off stage and left Steps on their own. They introduced the show and then we all had to sing happy birthday to Lisa, who looked very embarrassed! H wanted to give her the bumps, but she refused!

"When I Said Goodbye", a duet ballad with lead vocals by Claire and H followed. Claire started, then H, then they both left the other three in the middle and stood at either side of the stage. Unfortunately, H was on our side, but I was only seven rows from the front so I could see everything really clearly.

As one song finished, they went straight into their current single, "After The Love Has Gone". The dancers came back on stage in red costumes, with two of them controlling a huge Chinese dragon which H decided to pet during the song.

Then... a huge voice announced: "twenty seconds to lift off", and a space ship appeared on the screen (hey, the kids enjoyed it!) We all had to become members of the Steps gang so we could get into their spaceship! The group went off and the space ship took off (with some fantastic pyrotechnics) and took us through space on the video screens. Then Steps came back on stage in futuristic silver costumes and in a space buggy, singing "Deeper Shade Of Blue" from Steptacular. This was a top performance, brilliant routine and cool effects with the buggy. Lee looked me in the eye at one point.

After that they all got back into the buggy and drove off, except for Lee, who fell out (by accident, of course!) He introduced a track that he'd written himself, called "We're Gonna Have A Party". He taught us some dance moves, and everyone seemed to enjoy his up-tempo solo performance, complete with dancers.

Faye came out and performed her solo from the Steptacular album, "Since You Took Your Love Away". She was dressed like an ice maiden and the dancers had these weird metal balls that they could make bigger and smaller. I don't think the audience really knew how to take this song, although it is one of my favourites from the album. At the end of the song there was an explosion and all that was left was Faye's ice maiden coat. Until...

The group came out again in their space buggy to the beginning notes of "Heartbeat", greeted by much applause. They got out and stood spaced out across the stage, with Claire, finally, on our side of the stage. We got our banner out and waited for her to notice, and she did! She was looking at us and I waved at her and she waved back! It was so good that we didn't waste our time making it and she actually saw it. She seemed quite pleased because there weren't many other banners for her - the boys seem to get the most. The performance was really good, with the whole audience waving their hands in the air. They got back into the space buggy and left the stage.

Flowers started growing on stage and rain noises were heard. Then the group came out, in different costumes, singing a slower version of "One For Sorrow". As the second verse came, five flowery microphone stands were lifted up to the stage and they went back to the upbeat original of the song, with Claire in fine tune. The whole audience had their fingers in the air, doing the dance steps, for the chorus! Oh, and H pinched Claire's bum (but he gave it back, LOL!)

After the song finished, the group started having a go at H, telling him that his garden was rubbish, and they left the stage. H then made us "do magic" to get his solo track to start. Sure enough, it worked (hey, what a surprise) and George Michael's "Careless Whisper" started. Starting off as the slow version, it then transformed into a fantastic disco version, with H enjoying the company of his female dancers.

A swing then came down from the ceiling, and H went off leaving Claire to come on and do her solo, "I Think It's Love". For this she had a 12-year-old boy called Ian on stage with her. Ian seemed less than enthusiastic about Claire, just staring out at the hugeness of the crowd! I could have done a better job! Anyway, Claire's singing skills on this ballad were great, she has a fantastic voice. She sat on the swing before the rest of the group came out to join her.

Lee and H played a game where H danced and Lee had to guess which song he was dancing to. It was "Better Best Forgotten", which they launched into. The girls sat on the swing until they were pushed off by the boys at the chorus. Halfway through the song the dancers came on stage wearing cowboy hats and "5, 6, 7, 8" started. The group were given cowboy hats apart from Claire (it would have ruined her hair!) and Lisa, who ran off-stage!

The reason for Lisa running off was that it was time for her solo. "Just Like The First Time", from the Australian version of "Steptacular" is a typical Steps fast song, but Lisa performed it fantastically. I can't wait for my Australian "Steptacular" CD!

The rest of the group came back on stage and taught us the dance routine for their next single, "Say You'll Be Mine". It was hard to pick up, but people tried and the performance was great. This is the only Steps song with the whole group sharing lead vocals.

Then, it was time for them to leave. Or was it?

Steps and their dancers exploded (literally) onto the stage, with Steps wearing long red coats and devil horns for a steptastic performance of the Kylie classic "Better The Devil You Know". This is also their Christmas single (double A-side) and it really is fantastic, it's so Steps!

Another explosion and Steps launched into the final song, "Tragedy". They had removed the devil horns and red coats for this one, definitely a crowd favourite! Everyone did the dance moves, and it was just so good! At the end, they all bowed; Steps introduced the dancers, who left stage. Steps took a final bow and walked off.

So there you go! What a fantastic show! It was really childish in places, but they are great entertainers!


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