The Spice Girls
At the Air Canada Centre
February 3rd, 2008
By Lara Sutherland
I attended the final Spice Girls show ever — or at least until they need more money, right?
I’ve helped support the Spice Retirement Fund in a big way, as this was my third reunion tour show. I was completely enamored from start to finish; although really I’m still scraping my jaw off the floor over the fact that the whole tour happened at all. Since Geri Halliwell left the group in 1998, I have lived with the fear that I might die having never attended a Spice Girls show.
That said, I was surprised to find that I was not the only one still carrying a torch for these ladies. I watched as grown women around me burst into tears and jumped for joy like it was still 1998. One young lady behind me was so excited she was screaming bloody murder; I had to keep checking to make sure that she was not, in fact, being murdered.
The announcement of this reunion caused an unexpected stir. The ticket prices weren’t that high, because it wasn’t expected to be as huge a success. But apparently the chord the Spice Girls struck in the hearts of their young fans hasn’t died away. The positive reaction so many years later, I believe, is wholly because of the emotional effect the Girls had on their fans. It was never about whether or not they could sing, and no one really cared how well they danced: it was about “girl power,” plain and simple.
As I watched them take the stage for the final time, I wondered what my life would be like now if I hadn’t heard their “girl power” message growing up. Coming from a generation that had barely missed New Kids on the Block and was just the right age for the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC, I didn’t know what hit me the first time I saw the video for “Wannabe.” This electrifying, almost religious experience is still perfectly etched in my mind. The world stopped. The sassy attitude, the animated fun, the breath of life! I would never be the same. I entered into a pre-pubescent state of fun-loving, carefree obsession. To this day, I have a closet full of the most ridiculous Spice merchandise that I refuse to show my metalhead boyfriend because I’m sure he would either dump or commit me.
Since this tour started there have been rumours swirling that they actually can’t stand each other and are only in it for the money. I have to argue, and yes, I’m biased, but there was no questioning the love they showed for each other onstage. After just the second song, Emma broke down in tears, telling the audience, “This is going to be an emotional one, so bear with us.” The hugs and kisses were not an act. We’ve all seen Spice World; their acting is not that great.
I took my mother to the final show; on the way home we discussed how the Spice Girls would be remembered by future generations. I wondered if my kids would love the Spice Girls the way I love The Beatles. We both agreed that while The Beatles are remembered for their music and the huge impact they had on defining the 60s, the Spice Girls would be remembered for the confidence they instilled in women (and homosexual men). They stuck up for an entire generation of females who didn’t even realize they needed sticking up for! We could vote — what else could we really really want? We were so in tune with gushing over boy bands, we had forgotten how amazing women could be.
As always, however, there is a darker side of the tale to tell. When the girls announced their tour, there were a number of cities they told the world they would be visiting including Sydney, Beijing, Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Unaware of the success their tour would become, they ended up adding fourteen more shows in London, England alone. Toronto, which had not even been on the original tour list, got four shows.
As February neared, they had still not announced the dates for the remaining cities. On February 5th the girls posted a video message on their official site telling fans that they would be ending the tour on February 26th in Toronto. They apologized to the four cities that would be left out saying that they had not expected this degree of success for the tour and had family commitments that needed to come first. Bring on the backlash!
Spicenews.com, which was the best place to go for all the up to date Spice Girls appearances and gossip even after the girls had split, has since stopped production. The last post made on the site was titled, “Spice Girls Fuck Over South Africa, Argentina, China, And Australia: The Great Spice Betrayal of 2008.”
On YouTube a fan from Brazil posted a “tour cancellation version” of the girls’ most recent music video for their song “Headlines (Friendship Never Ends).” The Spice’s version is an ode to their friendship and their decision to reunite. In the fan version the lyrics have been changed from, “To go beyond the surface to reach into your soul, this love is not demanding my heart has told me so…the power to imagine will keep this love alive,” to, “To go beyond the tabloids to reach a lot of gold, this plan is so amazing my wallet told me so…I can’t stand all these girls here but money speaks so loud.”
While the anger of the fans is warranted, I think that if they were truly in it for the money they wouldn’t have ended the tour early. They also would have jacked up the ticket prices. The best tickets cost $119 while other popular reunions this year, The Police for example, had tickets going for $227.
There seemed to be a genuine desire for the girls to revisit that time in their lives. Victoria Beckham repeated in several interviews that she was doing it to show her children that “mummy was a pop star once.” Melanie Chisholm, the last to sign on for the tour, has stated that she suffered from depression and an eating disorder the first time around and was hesitant to be placed under a microscope again. When the girls told her they would still do it without her, she finally agreed for fear of missing out on a truly great experience. She also admitted that it would help her solo career. These reasons, though self-serving, still come from a more loving place than “we needed the dough.”
While all celebrities are ultimately unknowable by their legions of fans, it is the personal connection we create with them that matters. I went from being a shy, quiet wallflower to a hair-dying, platform-wearing advocate of girl power.
It has been suggested that they will perhaps tour again in the future. It’d be interesting to see how the next tour would be handled, now that they know their worth.