Review by Jamie
Gill @ Dotmusic.com
immediate, likeable, energetic. Mel C's performance tonight is everything
that 'Reason' - the album it promotes - is not. About as popular
with the public as SARS, though a great deal less infectious, 'Reason'
seemed to show a bright star swallowed in a MOR black hole.
isn't enough to atone for that particular criminal act, but it does
show that Mel C's rehabilitation isn't impossible. Her bold decision
to shun digital tape and surround herself with a tight live band
pays off. Most mainstream pop stars, shorn of the expensive FM production
of their albums, flounder when performing live. Mel C blooms in
the space it gives her to improvise and flex her impressive vocal
And as a host, Mel C
is faultless, filling up the Shepherd's Bush Empire with her surprisingly
buoyant mood and chatty asides. "Tonight is the thirteenth
show,"she announces early on,"and I refuse to make it
unlucky". The positive sentiment may be pure LA but the delivery
is hardcore Scouse.
'Melt' - a rare highlight
of the new album - sounds much better in this setting, its lovely,
lilting tune contrasting beguilingly with her jagged voice. 'Positively
Somewhere' overcomes its clichés - no small feat - to achieve
the kind of soft rock breeziness that might have graced a seventies
Fleetwood Mac album. Sadly, nothing can save 'Soul Boy', a song
so torpid and dreary that Seal would have rejected it as a b-side.
But it's the older material
that best showcases the charm and energy that made Mel C the most
interesting of the Spice Girls. 'Never Gonna Be The Same Again'
is a brilliantly spiky pop song, met with a slow clapping, arms
aloft reception that may have given the singer flashbacks to her
Wembley Stadium heyday.
Even better is when Mel
C rocks out, on tracks like 'Home' and the growly 'Baby When You're
Gone'. And 'Goin' Down' - sneered at on its release - sounds fabulously
ragged and angry live, Mel C writhing on the stage full of a from-the-gut
rage that Linkin Park can only daydream about.
Of course, for every
hit there are at least three misses, from the sickly 'On The Horizon'
to the sloppy cover of Stevie Wonder's 'I Wish'. But the most hopeful
moment comes in the middle of one of the worst songs, 'If That Were
Me'. As she sings the official worst-lyric-of-all-time - "I
couldn't live without my phone/ But you don't even have a home"
- Mel C joins in giggling with the crowd at its banality.
A little more humour,
and a lot more following of her instincts, and there might be life
left in this girl yet.