Girls Aloud say fans will be ‘blown away’ by shows as reunion tour kicks off in Dublin

Girls Aloud have said it feels like “the right moment” to celebrate their late bandmate Sarah Harding, as well as the 20th anniversary of the band that they missed in 2022, as they prepare to launch their hugely anticipated reunion tour.

The pop girl group rose to fame after competing on the ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, splitting in 2013 following a greatest hits tour. Along with Harding, who died of breast cancer in 2021, the band comprises Cheryl Tweedy, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh.

Cheryl told The Independent that she hopes fans will be “transported” back to their heyday in the early Noughties as they kick off their sold-out arena tour in Dublin tonight (Friday 17 May).

“We want people to be transported back to the time through our music. We want people to sing their hearts out and dance their socks off,” she said.

“It's the right time to celebrate Sarah, the right time to celebrate the band, and the right time to celebrate the fact we can still do this over 20 years later. That's a big honour.

“What do I want people to think when they see Girls Aloud? That we're pop icons of our era who have always been fun and free.”

Coyle acknowledged that the group today is different because “we’re missing Sarah”, but the “beauty” of what made them special is “definitely still there” as they endeavour to channel Harding’s irrepressible energy “as much as possible”.

Girls Aloud performing in 2005 (Getty Images)
Girls Aloud performing in 2005 (Getty Images)

Harding who auditioned for Popstars with a cover of Bananarama’s “Last Thing On My Mind”, was widely regarded as the “edgier” member of the group, with an endearing personality loved by everyone from Alex Turner to Vernon Kay.

She was widely praised for her stoic attitude towards a terminal cancer diagnosis, and for raising awareness by encouraging women to check for symptoms of breast cancer.

Walsh said that the outpouring of love towards Harding and the band in recent years had reignited something in them: “It just felt too raw to begin with, but time does make a huge, huge difference. And now feels like the right moment to celebrate Sarah and the 20-year anniversary that we didn't celebrate at the time.”

“If you'd asked me a year ago about the possibility of a Girls Aloud tour, I'd probably have said it wasn't very likely,” she continued. “But our energies have all aligned at the same time, which is something you can't predict. It just got to a point where we all looked at each other and thought: ‘This feels right.’

“Girls Aloud is a pretty amazing band to be in because it gives us so many options from a performance perspective. It's been so exciting to plan this tour from every angle: music, costumes, production. We have one job on this tour: to go out on stage and perform to the best of our abilities. And that's always been our favourite aspect of being in Girls Aloud, so the whole thing is a really enjoyable experience.”

Girls Aloud: Cheryl, Kimberley, Nicole and Nadine (Girls Aloud)
Girls Aloud: Cheryl, Kimberley, Nicole and Nadine (Girls Aloud)

“You are definitely going to be blown away by what you see on stage,” Coyle agreed. “Girls Aloud have made such a huge impact on people’s lives. We grew up with the group, but so did many other people, so we want to have this moment with our fans where we can all enjoy it together.”

Roberts credited the songwriters behind pop hits such as “Love Machine” and “Sound of the Underground” for writing lyrics that represented them “as young women and really captured the dynamics in the relationships we were experiencing at the time”.

“Sound of the Underground”, their debut single, spent four consecutive weeks at No 1 upon its release and was followed by a further 19 Top 10 singles. The band also won the Brit Award for Best Single in 2009, for their No 1 hit “The Promise”.

Roberts added: “At the same time, our songs always had moments that the LGBTQIA+ community really found a connection with and embraced as their own. To have all that in the songs we’re performing now is just fantastic.”

Girls Aloud performing at the Big Gay Out festival in 2005 (Getty Images)
Girls Aloud performing at the Big Gay Out festival in 2005 (Getty Images)

Girls Aloud have always shared the same ethos on tour, she said.

“We want people to leave thinking, ‘Wow, I've just had one of the best nights of my life,’” she continued. “This tour feels like a massive celebration of everything we've done up to this point.”

“We were five normal girls from really normal backgrounds who worked really hard, made amazing music and put on amazing live shows,” Coyle said. “And a lot of people came along with us for the whole journey, so this show feels like a huge explosion of all that collective energy.”

The Girls Aloud arena tour begins tonight (17 May) at the Dublin 3 Arena and will conclude in Liverpool on 30 June.