Hopping on stage in a cropped grey hoodie and baggy blue sweatpants, Melanie C arrives at the first night of her solo UK tour like she’s entering the ring. Bouncing from foot to foot, the pop star best remembered as Sporty Spice launches with fierce intensity into Who I Am, the disco-inflected opener from her 2020 self-titled album.
At 48, Melanie C retains the energy that bestowed her her 90s band nickname. Flanked by drums and keys, she pounces across the stage, adding flourishes of fist pumps, shimmies and jumping jacks to her high-energy tracks about self-love. “It’s a going out album, not a sitting in album,” she chides. It’s not long before her hoodie is flung off – as well as her shoes – and she takes an adoring audience back in time with a rendition of her 2000 No 1 hit, Never Be the Same Again.
In front of a pulsing screen of neon pinks and blues, Melanie C weaves with nimble ease between her early R&B solo singles and the invigorating nu-disco of her most recent album. Accompanied by minimal onstage instrumentation, she sings over a backing track; it’s a shame she’s not on tour with supporting singers to better accentuate her own vocal performance. But the intimacy of a club-night set suits the pop star’s queer icon status and feelgood pop advocacy. Here, an extravagant Todd Terry remix of her song, Overload, with its lyrics of empowerment (“I’m not gonna be your acceptable version of me”), transcends cliche as an inclusive rallying cry.
“I’ve got an important question to ask … are there any Spice Girls fans here?” she asks with a theatrical wink, to roaring cheers. She brings the night to a close with the singalong 90s duo 2 Become 1 and Who Do You Think You Are. Despite some acknowledged early tour nerves, the singer declares that she is exactly where she wants to be: on stage with a mic in hand. A performer with British girl group star legacy, Melanie C has nothing she needs to prove – which is why the sinewy pop punch of her set is all the more impressive.