Review: Little Mix – SSE Arena, Belfast

Thousands of fans struggled to find parking spaces close to the packed out SSE Arena last night to eagerly await the return of four-piece girl band, Little Mix.

It’s the first time they’ve returned to Belfast since having to cancel their March shows last year after Jesy Nelson fell under the weather, and they certainly came back with a bang.

The majority of the arena was filled with young and teen girls, with a few dads and boyfriends dragged along. But the atmosphere was perfect for the Glory Days Tour, that celebrated femininity.

Before the lights went down, Beyonce’s global hit ‘Run The World (Girls)‘ blasted out of the speakers, before the only group to ever win The X Factor rose from the ground and flames, dressed in leather with scarves covering their mouths to their 2017 single ‘Power‘ featuring Stormzy.

Despite the band being, arguably, the biggest girl group in the world right now, they had a simplistic stage, with a giant screen behind them projecting pre-recorded scenes and music video flashbacks.

When Jesy belts out the finishing touches of the song (“motorbike, motorbike, bike, bike, bike“) they launched straight into number one hit ‘Black Magic,’ but not as we know it. It was the updated rockier version they performed on last year’s Brit Awards, where the song was nominated for single and video of the year.

Despite coming from a singing talent show, the choreography between the girls and their eight male backup dancers were very impressive, and to quote Louis Walsh, proves that “they have the whole package.” And despite putting on a performance, the girls weren’t afraid to break character to wave to their adoring fans in the crowd.

Jesy shouted “Belfast, welcome to the Glory Days Tour,” before breaking into ‘Private Show‘ from their latest album and ‘Move‘ a top 3 hit from their second album way back in 2013.

The dancers then, surprisingly, shied away as the girls collected centre stage and Leigh-Anne addressed the audience, naming all the places they have been on tour this year, “but can I tell you something? It feels so good to be back in Belfast.” She then went on to admit that the girls had been quite unlucky in love. “Both individually and as a band, it’s been a whirlwind of a year. But now, we are in happy relationships. But there was a time when things weren’t so good. And there was only one thing to say.”

The girls then rose into the air as the first few chords of ‘FU‘ was played, sitting on a throne-like box with the two letters etched into it, with the arena bringing out their torches, despite a lot of the audience not knowing what the song means or is about (being mad at an ex for cheating and lying).

After that, they went backstage for a costume change, leaving the arena with the giant screen showing ‘what was happening backstage,’ including the backup dancers messing around in their dressing room dressed as cowboy attire, foreshadowing the arrival of ‘No More Sad Songs.’ Finally, they stepped out with silvery, sparkly outfits and feather boas, just to step right back onto a long platform that descended from the roof, taking them right back to see their fans in ‘the cheap seats‘ at the back of the venue.

Jade said: “It is so lovely to see all your beautiful faces,” her thick Geordie accent echoing through the deafening screams, “This song is so important to us and that’s because of the impact it had on our fans, especially those in the LGBT community. We encourage you all to be who you are because you’re all beautiful and special.”

A special rendition of ‘Secret Love Songs‘ followed, now looked at in a different light to so many in the arena, whilst the camera projected young members of the audience onto the giant screen, encouraging them to sing along. The song usually has the vocals of US star Jason Derulo, but the stripped back version told the audience of the pain of wanting to tell the world you’re in love, but cant due to whatever consequence, “I wish that it could be like that, why can’t we be like that, ’cause I’m yours.”

The theme of womanhood continued when the girls went offstage again, leaving a speech in their wake about an ‘unbreakable bond‘ with their sisters. “I salute all queens,” was projected with massive screams from the audience, knowing that the girl-power song ‘Salute‘ was to follow, the song that brought comparison to that of Beyonce and Destiny’s Child back in 2014.

The lights then went up in the arena, and Jesy told the audience that the girls wanted to know how well the crowd knew their songs, “I’m talking old school Little Mix. If we see anyone not singing we are going to bring you up onto the stage and that includes all the mums and the dads,” Jesy joked. “We know you have the albums in your cars.”

A lucky fan, Ryan, from the audience (literally) skipped on stage to be their fifth member for an acapella ‘Wings,’ where he got a selfie with the band and gushed “oh my god, you’re gorgeous,” to Perrie, before thanking Belfast for coming to his show!

Touch‘ followed, before the encore, the screen boosting the audience’s cheers by telling them to chant Little Mix, stamp their feet and clap their hands, before the inevitable, Best British Single of this year, ‘Shout Out To My Ex.’

The X Factor gets a lot of stick, especially now, but the girls are shining examples that it still spurts out talent and the ‘winners curse‘ was taking a year off in 2011 when they were on the show.