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The Boys Are Back! - 5IVE, A1, Damage, 911 at Symphony Hall Birmingham

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
5ive and 1990s friends will make you get down
Not one 1990's boy band - but four - will take crowds back in time with anthems from 5ive, A1, Damage and 911.

The Boys are Back! tour, 5ive, Damage, A1, 911, Symphony Hall Birmingham
Three return for 5ive in The Boys Are Back!

The Boys Are Back! tour will stop off at Symphony Hall in Birmingham on Tuesday, February 25 at 8pm.

Following on from the success of the TV show The Big Reunion and subsequent concerts, from 2013, these one-time teenage heartthrobs now regularly perform and are coming together for the new tour.

Pop band 5ive were one of the most famous boy bands of the 1990's and return with three of the original members - Scott Robinson, Ritchie Neville and Sean Conlon as Abz Love and Jason "J" Brown opted not to return.

Scott said: "I've never stopped gigging and for a while I was a one-man 5ive. Even before The Big Reunion, I said to the boys, there's still a lot of love out there for us and we should think of doing something. It was me that said that."

5ive are constantly busy performing at festivals and around Europe and even Australia throughout the year. The love for songs like Keep On Movin', If Ya Getting' Down and Invincible obviously hasn't dwindled. But the band did sell 20 million records around the world before splitting in September 2001.

The Boys are Back! tour, 5ive, Damage, A1, 911, Symphony Hall Birmingham
The 911 boys return for this latest tour

Scott, who has his own radio show on Sundays called Top of the '90s airing across several networks, added: "I'm 40-years-old now and could have hung my microphone up a long time ago, but don't want to.

"I'm enjoying this journey much more because Sean, Ritchie and I get on so well. We are doing it because we want to. We've all got wives and kids, and it's all on our own terms so it's a really nice band to be in.

"We have got used to Abz and J not being there. They aren't interested so you have to respect their wishes. If their heart's not in it, it wouldn't be right for them to do it."

For now, Scott's revelling in the camaraderie between acts on The Boys Are Back! tour, which he feels has the right mix of songs and people. "There's no arrogance there and no one puffing their chest up and down," adds Scott, perhaps thinking back to the many bust-ups 5ive had while filming The Big Reunion.

"Luckily, we're blessed with a strong back catalogue and we'll keep on singing the songs while people still want to hear them."

The Boys Are Back! tour also includes Brit Award-winning A1 as Ben Adams, Paul Marazzi, Mark Read and Christian Ingebrigtsen perform hits including Same Old Brand New You, Like A Rose and Ready Or Not.

The Boys are Back! tour, 5ive, Damage, A1, 911, Symphony Hall Birmingham
A1 take fans back to the 1990's

While Lee Brennan, Jimmy Constable and Simon "Spike" Dawbarn of 911 will be entertaining with Bodyshakin, A Little Bit More and More Than a Woman.

Bringing back the R'n'B sound is band Damage, who became a household name with 11 hits from anthem Ghetto Romance to Wonderful Tonight and Love Guaranteed after emerging in 1995.

At Symphony Hall in The Boys Are Back!, Jade Jones joins Andrez Harriott, Rahsaan J Bromfield and Noel Simpson, but without Coreé Richards who's no longer in the band.

Since the break-up of the band, singer Andrez Harriott, from Damage, retrained to become a qualified criminologist and sociologist, founding The Liminality Group through which he dedicates his life to helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, or those at risk of offending, to turn their lives around.

Tackling issues from knife crime to gangs and bullying, it's especially important with stabbings an issue in London. In fact, I speak to him just after he's left a young offender institution for one of the many programmes he delivers across communities and schools.

The Boys are Back! tour, 5ive, Damage, A1, 911, Symphony Hall Birmingham
Andrez, left, joins his Damage band members for the tour

Andrez wasn't the only one in the band finding a new way of life. Lead singer Jade Jones, the long-term partner of Spice Girl Emma Bunton, went on to become a chef in London. So, finding time to also tour as Damage away from the day job is an entertaining side-line.

"The reaction to Damage now is a more mature reaction," said Andrez. "The audience reacts to songs from when they were pre-mortgage, pre-children and pre-responsibilities, so it's great to see people lose their mind. They want that nostalgic experience to forget about everything."

Andrez recalls: "I came back from touring with Damage and saw how some friends had done really well, but others had got involved in criminality and some sadly were no longer alive - and I wanted to dedicate time to understand the cause of that.

"I found there was a lot of focus on the behaviour of a child rather than looking at societal issues, parents, what's happening at home or school. I've noticed a catalogue of events over the past 30 years since the early 1990's with young gangs coming up, then high-profile murders of Jamie Bulger and Stephen Lawrence, and that communicated to that generation that violence and murder wasn't a big thing anymore.

"Then there is social media, the content of films and video games… The stabbings now aren't just about poverty, it's been growing for decades."

So, it's very much light relief for Andrez to enjoy reconnecting with old friends in Damage and other boy bands from the 1990s with this latest tour - along with the fans. Plus he gets to relive the R'n'B hits, including his favourite I'll Be Loving You Forever.
"You've got to follow your heart," adds Andrez. "Wherever your heart leads you, that's where you should be."

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Why? Relive your favourite boy band hits with 5ive, A1, Damage and 911
When: 25 February, 2020
Phone: 0121 780 4949
Where: Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA
Cost: £25.50 - £35.50
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