5ive - Liverpool Echo Arena
Live Review

5ive – Liverpool Echo Arena

There’s something about the boy band formula that just keeps on giving decade after decade, from pioneers like The Osmonds and Jackson 5 through to Take That, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys and the whole plethora of other outfits that never quite made it. Tonight it’s the turn of fallen heroes 5ive to mount their second reunion assault on the industry that sucked them up and spat them out, following a disastrous first attempt in 2006.

Spurred on this time by an appearance on recent TV hit series and emotional-wringer for washed up pop stars, The Big Reunion, four of the original members grace the stage of the Liverpool Echo Arena and once more stand starkly in the public spotlight awaiting our judgement. First signs aren’t encouraging, as the stage has been brought down to around a third of the length of the sparsely filled arena, which leaves us guessing at around two thousand fans in attendance tonight – guys, we’re gonna need a smaller venue. Having said that, the atmosphere is genuinely electric and the minute the house lights drop down and the strains of Ennio Morricone’s legendary Ecstasy Of Gold (very classy choice of entrance music by the way boys) flood out over the audience, excitement reaches fever pitch and the thirty-something women to our immediate left enthusiastically scream and hop around like teenage girls.

Who can blame them? After their performance tonight, we can emphatically say that 5ive are most definitely back and possibly better than ever, even in their reduced capacity – or 4our, as we like to call them – after former band mate J Brown decided to bow out of the public eye. They’ve always claimed to have been more of a vocal group than a dance troupe and that much is evident, with Scott in particular moving around the stage like a drunken cockney uncle at a wedding, but it’s endearing to see them enjoying themselves so much and relishing performing again. Vocally they can’t be faulted, harmonies are bang on and particular highlights include Abs’ rap sections – a born star who you can’t help but feel could have had a very lucrative solo career. Maybe there’s still time…

National-television-mental-breakdown supremo Sean Conlon seems to have acclimatised perfectly to celebrity life again and looks at home behind the piano tonight on ballad ‘Invincible’ – a song taken from what band member Ritchie describes as “the best album we ever wrote” and conversely and melancholically “the song we broke up to”. It tugs at a few heart strings, and herein lies the perverse enjoyment derived from tonight’s show – the boys have really been through the pop star mangle over the years and it’s great to see them happy and back where they most definitely belong. It becomes abundantly clear that 5ive have got tunes for days, and speaks volumes that the group of bearded men in their late twenties that we’re with know every single word to every song and are screaming as loudly as the women.

Smash hit singles just keep coming, with Slam Dunk, When The Lights Go Out, If Ya Gettin’ Down, Got The Feelin’, Everybody Got Up , Keep On Movin’ and the ill-fated Let’s Dance all receiving louder and more frenzied receptions than the last. Sure tonight is slightly cheesy and a little bit awkward in places, but isn’t that what great pop is about? It’s hard to be curmudgeonly when the music is this good and it’s easy to forget quite how many truly great songs 5ive actually have in their back catalogue. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last reunion tour for, in Scott’s words, our favourite “bad boys of pop”.

– Jamie Otsa

Venue: Liverpool Echo Arena
Support Band: Charlee Drew

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