Credit: Andrew Timms

It was a night where rain ponchos were the style statement of choice rather than skintight Union Jack dresses. Even for the Spice Girls themselves.

But that didn’t stop the party in Manchester as the world’s biggest girlband arrived, fireworks blazing, for the first of three huge comeback gigs at the Etihad Stadium this week.

And for all those fans having to pull on the placcy macs for the occasion, at least their idols had to do it too on Wednesday night.

Yes, we were greeted by the sight of Ginger Spice and Baby Spice’s trademark glam outfits encased in see-through ponchos as they arrived on stage to sing Spice Up Your Life (Northerners Sporty and Scary are clearly made of sterner stuff and went without).

Quite how Posh, who has decided not to return with her Girl Power pals for this new tour, would have dealt with the indignity of an anorak over her designer clobber is anyone’s guess.

Review:  Spice Girls reign in the rain at Manchester's Etihad Stadium I Love Manchester
Credit: Andrew Timms

Still, the remaining girls were ready to laugh off the situation joking about how silly they looked. Baby Spice Emma Bunton said: “It’s raining but we’re still going to party tonight aren’t we?”

By the time the girls returned from their first outfit change to stomp out a banging Holler the ponchos had gone. Well, save for a Hilda Ogden style rain hood for Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell (it is SUCH a pain when you don’t want to get your hair wet).

Sporty Melanie Chisholm giggled: “You look like my Nan coming out of the hairdressers”.

Another outfit change, and this time Geri wasn’t taking any chances – wearing a full poncho AND carrying a brolly to sing Viva Forever.

It was actually quite sweet as they all used their brollies to pirouette at the finale of the song, looking like little flower fairies – one of this show’s many magical moments.

Review:  Spice Girls reign in the rain at Manchester's Etihad Stadium I Love Manchester
Credit: Andrew Timms

And, being one of the world’s most iconic bands since bursting on to the pop scene back in 1996, means no expense is spared in this Spice World extravaganza. Each girl is backed with her own flawless “House of” dance crew, while big screens create a dazzling wall of changing imagery and videos throughout the show.

There was an added party element thanks to Scary Spice Melanie Brown celebrating her birthday on Wednesday night’s Etihad opener, and a towering leopard print cake is wheeled onto stage.

But the birthday also brings back some sore memories for Mel, as it was on that very day back in 1998 that Geri sensationally quit the band at the height of their fame.

Mel attempts to make light of it, although saying to Ginger “you better not leave tonight you f*****g b***h” on stage felt a little close to the bone.

Review:  Spice Girls reign in the rain at Manchester's Etihad Stadium I Love Manchester
Credit: Andrew Timms

 

As luck would have it, the Manc rain subsided a little for the second half of the show, when the girls got to show off even glitzier outfits, without waterproofs. It was sequins a go-go for a Las Vegas inspired Lady is a Vamp and even more glitz for their gold and white ensembles for a Bond Girl-esque Too Much.

Audience members were all issued with white plastic bangles on entry – and rather fabulously they lit up in different colours at different moments to create a dazzling array of colour rippling through the crowds.

The girls made light of the sound problems that have apparently plagued earlier concerts on this tour – Geri pointedly asking all four corners of the stadium in turn if they could hear.

Although, unfortunately, it appears she spoke too soon, as the sound did then cut out at the start of retro banger Stop.

Review:  Spice Girls reign in the rain at Manchester's Etihad Stadium I Love Manchester
Credit: Andrew Timms

They are all mothers these days, so Mama took on an added resonance, and they were serenading their own mums in the crowd on Wednesday.

Amusingly, absentee Victoria Beckham gets her big mention right at the end when Geri adapts the lyrics on Wannabe to sing: “Easy V doesn’t come for free – where IS she??”.

It all leads to an amazing firework finale as they belt out the song that made these five ordinary girls (as they say themselves in an emotional video on the night) into global icons.

Review:  Spice Girls reign in the rain at Manchester's Etihad Stadium I Love Manchester

Girl Power is clearly still alive and well – and for those thousands of fans heading on Friday and Saturday night for the remaining Manchester gigs are in for a treat.

Not least because the weather forecast says no ponchos should be required.

Setlist

Spice Up Your Life

Who Do You Think You Are

Do It

Something Kind of Funny

Military Cadence/Sound Off

Holler

Queer Tango

Viva Forever

Let Love Lead the Way

Goodbye

Car Wash

Never Give Up On the Good Times

We Are Family

Love Thing

Lady Is A Vamp

The Last Waltz

Too Much

Say You’ll Be There

2 Become 1

Stop

Mama

Wannabe

For those heading to the Spice Girls concert at the Etihad Stadium on Friday May 31st and Saturday June 1st, check out our gig guide with full stage times and venue information here.

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