Girls Aloud pay emotional tribute to Sarah Harding as they kick off reunion tour

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Girls Aloud - Nicola Roberts, Cheryl, Nadine Coyle and Kimberley Walsh in concert, 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland - 17 May 2024 -Credit:David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

It was emotional as Girls Aloud delivered an homage to their late bandmate Sarah Harding as they launched their reunion tour this evening. The beloved girl group - Cheryl Tweedy, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh - had pledged that their first performances since 2013 would be a celebration of Sarah, who passed away at the age of 39 from breast cancer in 2021.

Despite a brief delay, which saw the girls take to the stage 30 minutes after the expected time, the quartet emerged and commenced their set with 'Untouchable', as visuals of Sarah were projected onto pink drapes behind them, marking their first performance without her.

Greeting the crowd with a spirited "Hello Dublin", they continued with a vibrant performance of 'Love Machine', accompanied by more images of Sarah. Expressing gratitude, Nicola told the audience: "What an incredible audience for our first show, thanks so much for being so supportive. We're so happy to be back." For the latest TV & Showbiz news, sign up to our newsletter

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Introducing the next song, 'History', Nicola remarked: "When we recorded this next song 19 years ago, we had no idea 19 years later it would become so poignant on our journey.", reports the Mirror.

A black and white video of Sarah performing 'History' played, followed by a touching tribute montage to the star, culminating with the words: "The darkest nights produce the brightest stars." Kimberley addressed the audience, sharing her deep connection with them: "Standing feeling all the emotions you're feeling. I hope you know it means as much as it means you to you."

Cheryl expressed her gratitude as well: "Thank you for your support through everything we went through with Sarah. It's hard to believe but it's such a beautiful thing to be on stage with these ladies again."

Before they performed 'Stand By You' to an excited audience, Nadine announced: "We're going to do a duet with Sarah tonight. It's going to be us, Sarah, you. Lets do this together." Emotions ran high when Sarah's recorded voice filled the venue while her bandmates sang alongside her.

During their performance of 'Promise', the group paused and turned away from the crowd, allowing a video of Sarah performing solo to take centre stage. They continued singing after the poignant moment, leaving the audience visibly moved. The show concluded with a touching image of Sarah projected onscreen, dressed similarly to the rest of Girls Aloud.

In anticipation of the six-week tour, Kimberley, 42, commented: "Our main aim is to do Sarah justice." They are due to play the Utilita Arena, Cardiff, on Monday, May 27.

Before hitting the stage at Dublin's 3Arena, she posted backstage photos with the group, adding: "We've had the best time creating this show for you and being back with my girls has been incredibly emotional but so special."

Nicola, 38, excitedly promised fans an unforgettable show, while Nadine, also 38, expressed her deep appreciation, saying: "I am full of gratitude and admiration for our entire team. Thank you to everyone up to this point. Now the real fun begins." Cheryl, 40, shared a snapshot of the group aboard a plane as they jetted off to Ireland on Thursday night, captioning it: "Ready for take-off."

Girls Aloud, the iconic group that was formed on ITV's 'Popstars: The Rivals' back in November, 2002, and who celebrated their first number one hit that Christmas, went their separate ways in 2013 following a series of disagreements. However, in a stunning turn of events last November, they announced a reunion.

The band, who held a ball in 2022 in memory of Sarah, have contributed raising over £1million for cancer-related causes, including The Sarah Harding Breast Cancer Appeal.