Peerless pop sweetens up a lacklustre performance
NINE-thirty looms and people are glancing anxiously at their watches. A dressing room cat-fight put paid to Sugababes' last Dublin show (the row prompted by, of all things, Britney Spears' 'Toxic').
The question hangs in the air: has another tiff erupted backstage? Fortunately, visions of the all-girl trio happy-slapping each other with hair-brushes in the bowels of The Point prove far-fetched.
Following the departure of founding member Mutya Buena (replaced by Amelle Berrabah), Sugababes appear to be getting on better and this greatest hits concert proceeds without a hint of drama-queen tension. Mind you, perhaps a little tension would have benefited the show.
Conventionally glamorous yet with a dangerous edge, Sugababes demonstrate that, done correctly, nothing can trump the synthetic thrill of pure pop. Yet tonight they largely fail to catch fire.
As the threesome of Berrabah, Keisha Buchanan and Heidi Range belt out 'Red Dress', you can't but be struck by the muted atmosphere. Glancing around the room, it's clear what the problem is: parents with children sit beside hipsters with bleached mohawks, each seeming faintly unnerved by the other.
Their discomfort will have only deepened during the sappy self empowerment paean 'Stronger', when Sugababes are accompanied by a bizarre video montage of starving Africans. Are we supposed to feel guilty, empowered or merely baffled?
Happily, no strings are attached as Sugababes reach into their trove of hits. 'Round Round', 'Push The Button' and especially the Gary Numan-sampling 'Freak Like Me' are peerless chart gems. They may no longer throw hissy fits, but Sugababes still kick up sparks where it counts.