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Spice Girls
A Concert Review

July 27, 1998

The New World
Music Theatre

Tinley Park, IL

A Review by Stu Gotz &
The Dude on the Right
Photos by
The Dude on the Right
Pre-fabricated bubble-gum pop is no new thing. I can recall from TV re-runs that some producers back in the late 60's had a grand idea. They would audition multi-talented youth and center a musical TV sit-com around them. To date, I don't think any orchestrated musical pop phenomenon has ever achieved the relative success as the Monkeys did in their time. Many have tried. The ever youthful "Menudo" from Puerto Rico was, without a doubt, a big success with the little girlie crowd. Teenybopper girls also went gaga over the now defunct "New Kids On The Block." The latest entry in the commercialized pop music meat grinder, Britain's "Spice Girls", has finally hit the US shores and made it to America's heartland. So, The Dude on the Right (DOTR) and I packed up the dude-mobile and headed out to the New World Music Theatre on a humid Chicago night to find out what all this "girl power" nonsense is all about.

The show was scheduled to start at 7:30, so we figured that if we left my crib at 6:30-ish we'd have plenty of time to get to the show. Let me tell you we were way wrong! The back-up of family trucksters (mini-vans, conversion vans, S.U.V.'S, and wagons) stretched a good mile and a half, which is pretty unusual considering our arrival time. Plus, I have never seen the New World Music Theatre's parking lot so full! So, after parking in the 3rd cornfield to the left and taking a hefty hike, we finally made it to the outside gate.

Since my niece is a big fan of the gals I figured I'd get her a shirt. I sauntered up to the souvenir stand and was struck by sticker shock. Twenty-seven bucks for a T-shirt?!? Eight bucks for a key chain?!? "I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna buy that T-shirt" I said to the souvenir guy. He just gave me a disgusted look and took my money. What a grouch - I thought it was kind of funny. So I got my shirt, gave it to the DOTR to throw in his camera bag, and I headed into the show.

Upon entering the gate I immediately saw a drawing box for a wave-runner. There were tons of kids filling out the cards, and I just had to laugh to myself thinking about how much crap mail their parents are probably now gonna get, or if they're going to like the new long distance carrier they might have just gotten slammed into. Parents... Control your kids. Speaking of which, allow me to step onto my soap box for another minute or two… To all the parents out there... What are you thinking?!? Looking back to pictures of myself as I youth I must say I was one stylish kid. Unfortunately, and in retrospect, the fashions of my youth were simply horrible!!! Why did my mom dress me like that? Well... At least she didn't let me walk around with my fly open and my, well, let's just say things were well covered, unlike today's fashions which has pre-pubescent girls wearing oversized jeans down to what will some day be their happy trail, bellies fully exposed with fake tattoo's, and tops showing cleavage that just isn't there yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a conservative Muslim thinking women should be covered from head toe, but I really do think we should make it more difficult for the pedophiles in society to get excited. Yea, yea, I'm not a dad, so you're probably saying something like "Wait till you have a daughter!", but I still think kids should have clothes that fit! 'Nuff said about that.

The Axle "I'll Be Out When I'm I'm Good and Ready" Rose School of Music
After pushing back a $5 beer I got a $3.50 Pepsi and headed for my seat. It was 7:25 and the show was supposed to start at 7:30. Right about 7:30 two big video screens started to flash a video, sending the crowd into a craze. "Right on time," I thought to myself, "I like that." After the video came a commercial. Then another, and another, and another, followed by a video, and another commercial, and so forth and so on. Nearly 45 minutes after the video barrage had started the commercials ended and the show finally began. What's with the stall? Need more time to sell overpriced souvenirs? Well hell, if the point is to sell merchandised crap why not stop the show mid-way for a 30 minute break? Guess what, that's exactly what happened later in the night.

Anyway, the night began with the girls stumbling to their song "If U Can't Dance." I say "stumble" because the choreography to the song was simply horrible! Or wait.. Maybe that was the intention. They were dancing poorly while singing the song "If U Can't Dance." It's a joke, right? Wrong. Aside from a spin or two, a wiggle of their tush, or a disco rolling of the hands, the Spice Girls dance moves just didn't exist. I'm not just talking for that one song, I'm talking for the whole show. Here were these four British tarts and this really cool, huge, multi-level stage with a band and "Spice Boy" dancers, and all they could do was wiggle around the stage, not even in synch? Give me a frigg'n break! How about a couple cool steps? Props? Gadgets? Pyrotechnics? Something? Anything! Nope. This show was no better than a Las Vegas lounge act. Now before all of you fans get all huffy and say "Hey Stu, it's about the music and girl power, not gimmicks." Maybe it should have been about gimmicks, because for music and girl power I can sit at home and listen to their CD's. At a concert I want a show, and you know what, some of the greatest female performers use gimmicks, some don't, and I think the Spice Girls should take some lessons. Female music artists like Janet Jackson and Reba McEntire put on one hell of a stage show. They use gimmicks and costume changes to the hilt, but the shows are tight, the choreography professional. Then take someone like Tori Amos where gimmicks don't exist. All she does is sit and wiggle and play the shit out of her piano. In any case, those performers work their shows with a passion in their voice for the songs that they sing. All I found the Spice Girls doing was going through the motions of singing their songs and trying to dance in step with each other, which they didn't. I ain't buying it. Furthermore, if it's really about the music and girl power then let's lose all the pre-show and in-show commercials. Hey, do you think if I gave the Spice Girls a million bucks they'd tattoo my name on their butts and moon the audience for their finale? No, how about two million bucks? 'Nuff said about that!

All Being Said and Done…
There have been a great many bands that were all about hype, and without a doubt the best might have been KISS. They surrounded themselves with mystique and controversy and made a lot of money doing so. I think they deserved all of it because they could successfully mix that hype while still putting on one hell of a show. I can't say the same about the Spice Girls though. They are vocally talented and I must admit that their songs aren't all that bad. (I may even go out and get one of their CD's - It's good "make-out" music). Sadly, though, they have no stage presence, and I find them more entertaining in their music videos than at a live show. On a positive note, they were crowd pleasers to the young fans. Simple minds, simple pleasures, huh? All that being said I give the Spice Girls NO THUMBS UP but NO THUMBS DOWN. Just a SHRUG and a sincere wish that they get a good choreographer or practice those dance steps a little more before their 15 minutes is up. I'm Stu Gotz, 'nuff said!

Not Enough Said - It's The Dude on the Right's Two Cents….
My plan, as Editor, was to have Stu take his niece, a pretty big Spice Girl's fan, and let her do the writing because even before the show I had a feeling some of the things Stu would write, although I didn't even see the tattoo comment coming. But, unfortunately, Stu's niece was off at camp, so two of the most out of place people at this concert were there covering it (Me and Stu), kinda like when I took him to see Engelbert Humperdinck. Stu had his mostly pre-conceived notions, while I had higher expectations, but you know what, other than the outfits and wishing I was that chair on stage during "Naked," there was nothing at the Spice Girls concert that was meant for me.

Say what you want about the music, say what you want about the choreography, say what you want about lack of passion in their live singing, this show, for me, didn't come down to any of those things, nor was any of it directed towards me. This show was directed in two ways: One, so the thousands of fans could see their favorite band live, and two, maybe to make a few more bucks in doing so. Sadly, it's that sell-out portion that bothered me the most.

Don't get me wrong, I understand some of the logistics in putting on a show nowadays, the costs involved, and how sponsorships help bands put on extravagant shows while still putting money in their pockets, but I don't think I have ever seen sponsorship exploited to such an extent as at this show. And that led me, as an adult, to question the integrity of the first reason for the show - to let the fans see their favorite band, and the meaning of that phrase "Girl Power." Those things bothered me, but so be it, because for the thousands of screaming young girls they didn't seem like they could give a damn, they wanted to see their Spice Girls, they wanted to be able to scream in tandem "We love you Spice Girls," and they wanted to be able to sing along with the band they have grown to love and idolize.

Ginger left the band - the young fans didn't seem to care that much; The band took a 30 minute break midway through their two and a half hourish show (the last band/artist I remember taking a well deserved break was Bruce Springsteen, but then his show lasted over four hours) - the young fans didn't seem to care that much; They played commercials on the projection screens before the show and during the break - the young fans didn't seem to care that much; The Spice Girls sang and were live on stage - that's really about all the young fans seemed to care about.

Lots of people write about how the Spice Girls are riding their 15 minutes of fame for all it's worth, and I'll tell you what, from the merchandising and commercials it looks to be worth a lot. For me that sucks, because, I always hope, in the end, that it is about the music. But I guess, money or not, the Spice Girls aren't directing anything at me, and their core group of fans love them with a passion, and for them it is about the music and the message the Spice Girls put out. My curiosity now comes to see what "Girl Power" really means when the clock hits minute number sixteen. Here's hoping it doesn't show that the Spice Girls were just about exploitation and making money, but that the music really mattered.

Yea, like Stu, the show did nothing for me, I guess mostly for some of the same reasons, especially having experienced the better performers that are out there. I expected attitudes on stage, but generally didn't get them. Scary didn't come off as scary, Baby didn't come off as baby, and Posh didn't come off as posh. About the only one who seemed to stay in her mold was Sporty. I guess my general feeling was that if you have given yourself these names to portray an attitude, then on stage, live, is the place where you can really manifest them rather than go through the motions of just singing your songs. I guess that's just my attitude as a concert-goer. But as the show went I also realized that my attitude wasn't really important this night. I kept watching the little girls next to me, kept catching the gleam in their eyes, watched as they sang every word, and how happy they seemed to be just being there. As nothing for me as the show was, the Spice Girls did their job, and most of those little girls have a happy story to tell. As a show for me, I'd also rate it a Shrug, but I'll bet nearly every one of those fans would give it Two "The Best Show I've Ever Seen" Thumbs Up!

That's it for this one, I've think 'nuff has now been said. I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!


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