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Review - Pop: Little Mix at the O2 in Dublin

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Little Mix

Little Mix

Little Mix

On their last visit to Ireland, Little Mix risked stumbling across the line dividing pop stars from children's entertainers. With their pink costumes and day-glo jewellery, The X Factor graduates looked as if they'd been styled by a hyperactive 12-year-old with unlimited access to a Claire's Accessories bargain bin.

Eighteen months on, the UK outfit have had a dramatic reboot. Second album Salute relaunched the quartet as provincial England's answer to Destiny's Child. Beyonce-worthy grooves replaced the Spice Girls garishness: in their videos they pouted and preened like musical A-listers. A top 20 placing in America confirmed they were ready to inherit Girl Aloud's crown as the leading British girl band of their generation.

Their first arena tour feels explicitly designed to reflect their rebranding as a pop affair grown-ups might like. They perform on faux industrial platforms, waggling provocatively and pretend-flirting with bare-torsoed male dancers. Of their earlier, ditzy image not a whiff endures.

All of which is mere window dressing, of course, and would count for little if the band was unable to back it up with their music.

However, they've overhauled their songbook, as well, and the results are generally worthwhile. For instance, opener Salute is essentially a cheeky reworking of Destiny's Child's 'Independent Women' (the chorus– Representing All The Woman, Salute Salute –is the best couplet Beyonce never wrote).

Between tunes, they brim with girl-next-door charm, even if a tad alarmed at all the keepsakes tossed at their feet. "Any more of these and we're gonna slip," says Perrie Edwards, the closest to a front woman in the line-up.

The group's greatest asset is their vocal dexterity. If they're lucky, the average all-female ensemble will contain one or two decent belters. In contrast, Little Mix have four talented singers, easily up to the tonsil-stretching demands of Wings and Move.

There's lots of variety, too. They don Matrix-esque jumpsuits, gyrate on ramps, squeeze into sports-casuals and sit atop a car. Granted, the inventiveness does not always extend to the music. Stitched together, a sameness takes hold of the songs so that it seems you are listening to variations of a restrictive r'n'b formula.

Not that this is an issue for their fans, who are genuinely thrilled with what they are seeing.

With the exception of One Direction, The X Factor has struggled to produce break-out stars of late. Little Mix might be the ones to push against the trend.

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