The Girls Aloud tour may be the best concert I've ever seen

The Girls Aloud tour knocks it out of the park
-Credit: (Image: Oliver Horobin)

There's no denying the fact that Girls Aloud are one of the biggest bands to ever emerge from the UK.

With a massive backlog of bangers, chart toppers and iconic music videos, the girls dominated British pop music in the 00s. They were the next generation's answer to the Spice Girls and no one competed with them - not by a long mile even today. More than a decade ago the group disbanded following their Ten: The Hits tour and we all believed that'd be the last we'd see of them.

Tragedy struck in 2021 when band member Sarah Harding passed away after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a pivotal voice in so many of the group's songs, a fan favourite with audiences and an undeniable talent that left a massive hole in the Girls Aloud image.

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Late in 2023, the remaining members announced they would reunite once again in memory of Sarah which has resulted in the very tour making its way across the country as you read this. Although bittersweet, the tour is not only a celebration of their career but a brilliant tribute to Sarah.

I was lucky enough to bag tickets for the third and final Manchester date despite initially attempting a checkout for Liverpool. Girls Aloud wraps the tour in Merseyside so consider this an explicit tell-all of what to expect at the M&S Bank Arena.

The girls flying high during Something Kinda Ooh
The girls flying high during Something Kinda Ooh -Credit:Oliver Horobin

Doors open at 6:30pm and the show ends approximately at 11pm. A live DJ will play classic pop bangers and familiar favourites from 7:30pm. However, one song in particular marks your last chance to get ready - Shakira's Waka Waka (This Time For Africa). Once this track finishes around 8:45pm, the show will officially begin so any last-minute drinks or toilet breaks need to be dealt with promptly.

Once the arena goes dark it's all guns blazing for the next few hours. Girls Aloud drop the curtain to them standing tall on pedestals with capes billowing in the wind behind. The opening track is Untouchable - a gentle opener - before making way for the anthemic The Show. The vocals were pitch-perfect and exactly how they sound on recordings. They clearly didn't win Popstars on a fluke.

If like me you suffer from severe nostalgia it's enough to bring a tear to your eye. Dancers begin lining the circular stage while bass fills the arena. You're standing next to your pals listening to your favourite songs from decades ago while a group you never thought you'd see again nails every word and step. The show overall is incredibly camp. From the flirtatious moves with an all-male squad of dancers to Cheryl admitting she never thought she'd sing Love Machine in her 40s, it's filled with personality.

Each track boasts a strong identity. The girls perform Biology in a butterfly-filled arena of pinks and whites whereas Something Kinda Ooh sees them flying in the air on motorbikes. The iconic crimson latex dresses from Sexy No No No are now ten-tall parade costumes and Jump sees them in athletic biker gear.

One of the Sarah Harding tributes during the show
One of the Sarah Harding tributes during the show -Credit:Oliver Horobin

Several tracks pull on your heartstrings because the group isn't afraid of still sharing the spotlight with Sarah. Whole Lotta History has a lengthy, recurring vocal performance which sees the late star on the big screen on an empty stage. The lyrics go on until the backing track is silent and the arena is singing in tandem with her. It's a beautiful moment to experience in person. It ends with a message on the screen that says: "The darkest nights produce the brightest stars." It's enough to make anyone emotional.

To round out the show, the band regroups for an encore performance of The Promise. All four stand next to each other in golden floor-length dresses not dissimilar to the Dreamgirls. The final send-off for fans is filled with dancers, pyrotechnic waterfalls and all four of the girls belting it out one last time. Another tribute to Sarah is shown on screen and it's the perfect package. The tour knocks it out of the park in terms of expectation, performance and most of all honouring Sarah's memory. It's easily one of the best concerts I've ever been to. Liverpool is in for a treat.

The Girls Aloud setlist includes:

  1. Untouchable

  2. The Show

  3. Something New

  4. Love Machine

  5. Can't Speak French

  6. Biology

  7. Whole Lotta History

  8. Wake Me Up

  9. Sound Of The Underground

  10. Girl Overboard

  11. No Good Advice

  12. Graffiti My Soul

  13. Long Hot Summer

  14. I'll Stand By You

  15. Sexy! No No No...

  16. On The Metro

  17. Jump

  18. Call The Shots

  19. Something Kinda Ooooh

  20. The Promise

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