sun 22/04/2018

Little Mix, Brighton Centre | reviews, news & interviews

Little Mix, Brighton Centre

Little Mix, Brighton Centre

Eye-boggling show from internationally successful X Factor winners

Cowell's quartet pictured on a dress-down day

It says a lot that by the time Little Mix reach the final song of their encore, the recent mega-hit “Black Magic”, clad in silver sci-fi space bikinis and Barbarella-esque space-boots, it’s almost anti-climactic.

Blonde Geordie member Perrie Edwards suggests to the capacity crowd mostly girls aged between seven and 14 accompanied by their mums that this is the song they’ve been waiting for all night. Perhaps it had been at the start of the evening but by the time the band reach it, an hour-and-a-half later, their mind-boggling show has rendered its ace-in-the-hole status redundant. For Little Mix put on an eye-frying, brain-zapping extravaganza that has to be seen to be believed, a Las Vegas tour-de-force. It is a visual match for anyone, from the frontier-pushing cinematics of the Chemical Brothers to and this is the one the X Factor-manufactured quartet undoubtedly aspire to Beyoncé Knowles herself.

Even when they are dry-humping/horse-riding their dancers, it all struck me as ludicrously camp, rather than lewdly sexy

No prisoners are taken from the start. A giant curtain covering the Brighton Centre stage, bearing the phrase “Are You Ready To Get Weird” in honour of their recent third album is dropped to reveal another gigantic screen. On this a Necronomicon tome blazes towards the audience and a Vincent Price-style voice announces “Once upon a time there was a book…” going into a hokey Hammer horror spiel prior to revealing the four Little Mix members clad in lurid pyjama suits, crouching witchily amid dry ice and darkness. They then suddenly flit up to the ceiling, disappearing, before dropping back to the stage. A team of male dancers appear, ripping away Little Mix’s costumes to reveal outré red, pink and glittery outfits that look like swimming costumes in a kitsch Hollywood musical. They play the new song “Grown”, the production super-compressed and the volume pumped right up.

Judging a Little Mix gig by the same criteria as, say, Nick Cave or S.W.A.N.S, all crackling edge and authenticity, is redundant. It would be like reviewing Cormac McCarthy alongside Zoe Sugg, or The Wire against a snappy episode of Pretty Little Liars. Little Mix live are purest glitz, froth and showbiz, mainly aimed at tween girls. There is no band, just backing tracks, so the whole performance is about choreography and theatrical presentation.

The four young women in the internationally successful outfit wear little in the way of clothes all night but, even when they are dry-humping/horse-riding their dancers, it all struck me as ludicrously camp, rather than lewdly sexy. However, there was one visual, halfway through, with endless images of rain running down cleavage, which was a full-on, given the junior fanbase. The latter can be heard shrieking at ear-splitting volume whenever asked. The other especially noticeable aspect is the way their mostly rather weedy, saccharine music has been amped into something Major Lazer-ish and heavily percussive, putting their throwaway fizz-pop on EDM steroids, to the extend I saw some of the audience’s younger members covering their ears and hiding in their mums' laps.

Here are some snapshots: the astonishing drum’n’strobe assault during the mane-flinging anthem “Hair”; the vocal emphasis on how long they’ve been together, including a photo montage during “Change Your Life” (somehow this is more effective when the likes of The Stranglers 40 years and counting do it!); the constant thematic filmed sequences with the foursome in a taxi, trying to reach "Club Weird" but being dropped off instead in sinister, red-lit, foggy woods, only to reveal this very scenario onstage as they perform the night’s most dubstep-meets-Carl Orff bangers in the form of new song “Lightning” and the title track of their 2012 debut album DNA.

Then there's a ballad wherein the whole audience waves their mobiles, creating a bright sea of fireflies; a “party” medley which pays tribute to Beyoncé, as well as grime and Justin Bieber; a sequence of bondage-clad dancers bullfighting with the band until they simply disappear with an almost magical choreography; and a hugely engaging take on the 2013 single “How Ya Doin’?” which pulls all generations together as it’s a rehash of tunes by both Eighties boy band Curiosity Killed the Cat and De La Soul and features a guest rap (onscreen) by Missy Elliott (before breaking into Drake’s ubiquitous “Hotline Bling”).

And on and on and on it went, never a dull moment, like being let loose in pop's zaniest sweet shop. By the end, the candy comedown is starting to show on the youngest in the crowd, but we all certainly had our money’s worth of epic sugar rush. Little Mix put on a show of shows.

We all certainly had our money’s worth of epic sugar rush

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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