Review: Steps

Cheesy pop music reigned supreme back in the 90s. Trust me, I spent enough hours listening to it all; singing into my hairbrush, dancing around my bedroom, pretending I was a pop star.

Fast-forward almost two decades and while I like to think my music tastes have matured slightly, it turns out there is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in some nostalgia now and again – which is exactly what happened here. And it was worth every second.

Before Steps even appeared on the stage, it was clear that the night was going to be one large party with the perfect support act in Vengaboys. Another gem of a band from the 90s, they were equally known for their outlandish costumes as their somewhat questionable lyrics (My heart goes shalala lala, shalala in the morning, anyone?), but you can't deny that they were fun.

Interestingly, it was the first time I had ever witnessed the arena packed out for the warm up act, but as the band rolled out their hits, including 'Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom', 'We Like To Party!' and 'Up & Down', the crowd were loving it. It's good to know I'm not the only one who can still sing along word for word after all this time.

It was the turn of Steps now and as the arena descended into darkness, gothic images filled the screens, dancers wearing long, hooded capes marched through the crowd, and a Gregorian-style chant started, demonstrating that the show was going to be more than the matching coloured outfits and carefully choreographed routines from the 90s.

The band emerged on stage to a song from their most recent album before they belted out a selection of their older hits. This week actually marks 20 years since the release of their debut single '5, 6, 7, 8' and while it still proves to be a crowd favourite, the band aren't as keen. Without giving away too many spoilers, it was nice that they included it in the setlist and celebrated its anniversary with a full-on Western theme. There may or may not have been a hoedown.

It was around here that Steps threw in a couple of their slower numbers to give themselves – and the audience – a breather. It was also an opportunity for each member to show off their vocal skills; Faye, Lisa and Claire paid tribute to Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer with a stripped-back version of 'No More Tears', while Lee and H tackled the more recent 'Despacito'.

The more recent catalogue of songs then took precedence, including a remixed version of 'Story Of My Heart', before the band went back to the 90s/early 00s, revealing just how many hits they've actually had and that have stayed in our memory over the years.

As the show came to an end and everyone waited for the encore, it was clear that there was only one song it could be. Suddenly, a stained-glass projection of the band appeared, the stage was transformed into a giant wedding cake and the crowd cheered, knowing their suspicions had been confirmed. The opening notes of 'Tragedy' echoed around the arena, and some 11,000 people got ready to show off those famous dance moves.

It was anything but a tragedy, however. It was a night of fun and pure cheesy pop at its best.

Jacqueline Purse

Steps performed at Belfast's SSE Arena on Sunday 12 and Tuesday 14 November. The band will return to Belfast – alongside Blue and Aqua – on Sunday 8 July 2018 as part of the Summer of Steps. Tickets are on sale now.

Photo courtesy of the band themselves, taken at the Belfast show.

Recent Gig Reviews