Girls Aloud reunite for first time in 11 years on tour dedicated to late bandmate Sarah Harding

Girls Aloud paid an emotional tribute to their late bandmate Sarah Harding on the opening night of their reunion tour at Dublin’s 3Arena on Friday night (17 May).

Nadine Coyle, Cheryl, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh appeared on stage together for the first time in 11 years, standing on individual podiums singing the opening track “Untouchable” as a montage of photographs of Harding were projected onto the screen behind them.

The tour has been dedicated to the late singer, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in September 2021 aged 39.

During the show, the group of four performed a duet with Harding’s vocals to the song “I’ll Stand By You”. Before the ballad began, Nadine told the crowd: “We’re going to do a duet with Sarah tonight. It’s going to be us, Sarah, you. Let’s do this together.”

Later in the night, as they performed one of their biggest hits, “The Promise”, they turned their backs to the audience to watch the screen play old footage of Harding singing the song solo.

As they performed their 2005 hit “Whole Lotta History”, Nicola reflected: “When we recorded this next song 19 years ago, we had no idea 19 years later it would become so poignant on our journey.”

Black and white footage of Harding singing was projected on screen, followed by a nemotional montage dedicated to the late star that read: “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.”

Walsh told the audience while holding back tears: “Standing feeling all the emotions you’re feeling. I hope you know it means as much as it means you to you.”

A montage tribute to the late Sarah Harding (Tom Dymond/Shutterstock)
A montage tribute to the late Sarah Harding (Tom Dymond/Shutterstock)

Cheryl added: “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.”

A post on the official Girls Aloud X/Twitter account said: "Show 1 done. Dublin you were absolutely INCREDIBLE. What a start to the £TheGirlsAloudShow 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.

Girls Aloud reunite for the first in 11 years (Tom Dymond/Shutterstock)
Girls Aloud reunite for the first in 11 years (Tom Dymond/Shutterstock)

They reunited with new music for their 10th anniversary in 2012, while a second reunion was planned for their 20th anniversary when Harding was diagnosed with cancer. It was postponed following Harding’s death, but the four decided to pick up the tour in Harding’s memory two years later.

Ahead of their return as a group of four, Cheryl told The Independent that she hoped fans will be “transported” back to their heyday in the early Noughties through their sold-out arena tour.

“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.

Girls Aloud photographed in their 10th anniversary in 2012 (Getty Images)
Girls Aloud photographed in their 10th anniversary in 2012 (Getty Images)

“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.

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”.

After two back-to-back opening nights in Dublin’s 3Arena, Girls Aloud will play two concerts at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Monday and Tuesday, before heading to the Manchester AO Arena from Thursday to Saturday. The tour will conclude will conclude in Liverpool on 30 June.

In November, the group had to add six extra dates to their UK and Ireland 2024 arena tour due to “unprecedented demand” following ticket pre-sales.