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The Boys Are Back! 5ive, A1, Damage and 911 at Symphony Hall - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Everybody get down to these nostalgic boybands
There's a trend for nostalgic concerts of late probably as they have the power to transport fans back to a time before mortgages, bills and job worries.

Five, 5ive boy band, boys are back, Symphony hall, birmingham UK tour
5ive on stage at the gig

This latest tour gives the 1990's a reboot with a high calibre of some of the most famous boybands of that time.

The Boys Are Back! features 5ive, A1, Damage and 911 and stopped off at Birmingham's Symphony Hall as part of a UK tour until the end of March. They are back in the wider Midlands in Leicester on March 11.

Renowned for its acoustics, would the harmonious tones of soulful bands like Damage and A1 stand the test of time in Symphony Hall?

Reemerging into the limelight over the past few years after being involved in the ITV vehicle The Big Reunion, all of the bands have had time to reconcile and slick up their routines.

Although not all of them are complete - 5ive is now down to three members of Ritchie, Scott and Shaun, and there's also one less member of Damage - but there's enough to keep fans happy.

The boys are back! UK tour, symphony hall, birmingham, a1
A1 showed they have aged well

The four acts performed separately with an interval between each slot. A1 was first out of the blocks. "It feels like the Smash Hits tour all over again or the Birmingham big bash," they yelled to cheers from the predominantly female crowd.

The band has aged well and still got the voices as they opened with crowd-pleaser Same Old Brand New You - an apt choice as it summed up the return of A1.

Hits like Summertime Of Our Lives, Ready Or Not, Caught In The Middle and Take On Me followed on this glossy nostalgia trip.

The dance moves were all there, they were just a bit slower. A trend seen through the whole gig - but then none of us are getting any younger.

"Are you ready for some hot boy band action?", they added. Well, things were about to get a whole lot hotter with R'n'B act Damage.

Damage, boy bands 1990's , boys are back tour
Damage relive their hits with fans

Giving the most polished performance of the concert, Damage had a vibrant energy on stage. Their songs and moves had aged the best to create a cool R'n'B party vibe, helped by them adding a sample from Blackstreet.

The boys are back! UK tour, damage, symphony hall, birmingham, a1
Damage gave a very slick performance

In between songs like Love II Love, I'll Be Loving You Forever and Ghetto Romance, they charmed the audience. There were ladies serenaded, Jade's sweet, soulful voice impressed as did Andrez' big guns and everyone was left cooing when one of their babies was brought on stage wearing massive ear protectors. Another thing that has changed in the past 20 years.

Next up was 911. A frenetic, energetic buzz of dance routines and craziness. "Are the party people in the house?" they urged and they weren't joking.

They banged out the hits and dances (including a trademark backflip from Spike) and were the most breathless as a result.

"Noone can thrust like a boyband", Spike started - "we invented that stuff", finished Lee.

"If we'd known we'd still be doing this 20 years on, we would have sat on stools like Westlife," they quipped.

The boys are back! UK tour, 911, damage, symphony hall, birmingham, a1
911 were a ball of energy on stage

911 took everyone back to 1996 with songs like The Day We Find Love, The Journey, A Little Bit More and Bodyshakin.

Finally, it was the turn of 5ive as the three remaining band members appeared on stage to riotous screams.

Scott, now with a man bun, takes care of the raps in the absence of J and Abz, even changing some of the words to three instead of five.

Shaun had the voice but seemed a little bemuddled later on, having got the set order mixed up. While Ritchie was glad to be back "home" (he's from nearby Bromsgrove) and wore a Black Sabbath T-shirt in Birmingham's honour as they knocked out hit after hit.

The boys are back! UK tour, 5ive, 911, damage, symphony hall, birmingham, a1
The three remaining members of 5ive

Everybody Get Up, We Will Rock You, Let's Danceand many more emphasised what a strong back catalogue they have.

Finishing on hit Keep On Movin', Scott urged everyone in his dad voice to "be kind and nice to each other" - a touching, mature sentiment from someone now with his own family.

Yes, throughout the whole concert from all the bands most of the dance moves were a bit slower, there's longer pauses between songs to catch their breaths and there's a lot of talk about "being knackered", but there's also a charm to it all. And most importantly the music.

It's the songs that have the ability to transport the audience to more youthful and naive times - and that's the real gem of a nostalgia gig and this latest entertaining, fun tour.

The boys are most definitely back in town and let's hope they stick around.

UK Tour Dates

The Boys Are Back! with 5ive, A1, Damage and 911

Bath Forum, Bath
Wednesday 26th February 2020

City Hall, Sheffield, Sheffield
Thursday 27th February 2020

Bonus Arena, Hull
Friday 28th February 2020

Olympia, Liverpool
Saturday 29th February 2020

Regent Theatre, Ipswich
Sunday 1st March 2020

G Live, Guildford
Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Watford Colosseum, Watford
Wednesday 4th March 2020

O2 Apollo Manchester, Manchester
Friday 6th March 2020

U.E.A (University Of East Anglia), Norwich
Monday 9th March 2020

York Barbican, York
Tuesday 10th March 2020

De Montfort Hall, Leicester
Wednesday 11th March 2020

Cliffs Pavilion, Southend On Sea
Thursday 12th March 2020

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Friday 13th March 2020

Eventim Apollo, London
Saturday 14th March 2020

Winter Gardens, Margate
Sunday 15th March 2020

Corn Exchange, Cambridge
Monday 16th March 2020

Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth
Wednesday 18th March 2020

Reading Hexagon, Reading
Thursday 19th March 2020

Lighthouse, Poole
Friday 20th March 2020

O2 Guildhall Southampton, Southampton
Saturday 21st March 2020

Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth
Sunday 22nd March 2020

St David's Hall, Cardiff
Monday 23rd March 2020

Villa Marina, Douglas
Wednesday 25th March 2020

Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone
Thursday 26th March 2020

Brighton Centre, Brighton
Friday 27th March 2020
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Why? Relive 1990's boy bands in concert
When: Touring until March 26, 2020
Phone: Symphony Hall - 0121 780 4949
Where: Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA
Cost: From 25.50
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