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Spice Girls kick off tour

Vancouver, Dec. 3: As the Vancouver crowd roared, the pounding music emanating from the city’s General Motors stadium felt like it might split the place apart.

After a nine-year wait and months of feverish hype, a sell-out audience of almost 16,000 finally got to sample the new and improved Spice Girls as they kicked off their reunion world tour in the Canadian city. The British quintet, playing together as a five-piece for the first time since 1998, met with a rapturous reception from the largely but by no means exclusively female crowd, who had paid around £50 each for tickets that reportedly sold out in seconds.

They performed for almost two hours, rattling through 22 songs including old favourites such as Spice Up Your Life and Wannabe as well a few covers and tracks the girls had recorded while pursuing solo careers.

The exuberant set — which took in eight costumes and elaborate choreography including a spot of pole dancing — had fans screaming from beginning to end and betrayed no signs of the intervening years. If anything, the crowd was awed by the physicality of the performance and the whittled frames of the now thirty-something members, four of whom are mothers to a total of seven children. “I can't believe Geri looks that good,” gasped Jessica Andrews, 17. “And Baby Spice! She just had a baby.”

The tour by the band will take in San Jose, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York before moving to Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia and South America.

The visuals were impressive, befitting a rejuvenated act that has poured heart and soul into its comeback, according to the blogs on the band’s official website, with energetic routines and acrobatic backing dancers. At the opening of the concert, an introductory video showed the girls as children (portrayed by actors) before giving a potted history of the band, with flashbacks to headlines and some of the most memorable costumes, such as Geri’s Union Jack mini-dress. Then white digital silhouettes fizzed into life to announce the girls' entrance on five individual podiums clad in gold and white.

The songs were interspersed with little routines — such as Scary Spice (aka Mel B) gyrating in front of middle aged man plucked from the audience — as well as lots of hugging and scripted-sounding conversations about what song would come next.

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