Blasting out hit after solid-gold hit, Steps did not disappoint their fans of more than 20-years, with the first date in the 'Summer of Steps' tour, which began its run in Cheltenham on Saturday 26 May 2018.
Also marking the first large-scale concert for Cheltenham Town FC's LCI Rail Stadium, on Whaddon Road, the debut performance will be a tough act to follow for the next name booked to play at the venue.
Ahead of Lee, H, Faye, Claire and Lisa's incredible entrance to Cheltenham Town FC's stage, the Gloucestershire crowd was warmed up by (some might argue) equally entertaining performances by X-Factor and Eurovision star Saara Aalto and British boy-band Blue.
Aalto appeared on stage sporting a Cheryl-style military blazer and instantly captivated the audience with her charming Finnish accent and stunning vocals. Her set included an excellent rendition of Kylie’s ‘Spinning Around’ along with some euro pop hits from her new album Wild Wild Wonderland.
Next to the stage was boy-band (or should we say man-band) Blue. Famed for their hits from the 2000s including ‘One Love’, ‘Too Close’ and ‘All Rise’, the performance from Lee, Simon, Duncan and Anthony was a surprising stand out. Close harmonies and even the odd line of a Capella left us incredibly impressed by the group’s dynamic vocals.
The band of 30-something Dads even seemed aware of the funny side of their performance. Cheekily embracing the signature dance moves they were known for 18-years previously, leaving their set peppered with humour.
Steps burst onto the Cheltenham Town stage with an explosion of dancers, flashing lights, samba style drums and colourful pyrotechnic smoke.
It was impossible not to get caught up in the whoops and cheers from the crowd, as they emerged in stunning hot pink summer outfits.
Opening their set with the 2000 hit ‘Summer of Love’ the group then wowed audiences with ‘Better The Devil You Know’, ‘5, 6, 7, 8’ and ‘Say You’ll Be Mine’, before an incredibly quick change into medical-style outfits, which singer Faye Tozer admitted was: ‘a little bit hairy’ to the opening night crowd.
The set changed pace to include slower ballads ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Heartbeat’ and a single from their 2017 album Tears On The Dancefloor. The audience was then treated to another costume change into sparkling black and gold stage outfits, ready for disco hits ‘Stomp’, ‘Glitter and Gold’ and ‘Better Best Forgotten’.
As the energetic and infectiously impressive performance came to its final few songs, the crowd enjoyed a mix of old-school hits and more modern numbers including ‘Last Thing On My Mind’, ‘Neon Blue’, ‘After The Love Has Gone’ and ‘Love’s Got A Hold On My Heart’. The impressive back catalogue really made us realise how many hits Steps had released, and how many of those dance routines would be etched in our brains for eternity!
There was one final quick costume change into fitted, blue, sci-fi-inspired costumes, evoking the band’s renowned ‘Deeper Shade Of Blue’ video, which was then performed live, along with original dance moves and enthusiastic singing from the audience, followed by ‘One For Sorrow’ and a final hurrah in the form of the Bee Gee’s cover ‘Tragedy’.
For a first performance at Cheltenham Town FC’s LCI Rail Stadium, Steps have set the bar incredibly high.
In terms of stage presence the group and their troop of six dancers filled the arena with uplifting pop hits and delightfully synchronised dance routines that were rehearsed to perfection.
Encouraging their audiences to sing and dance along, the group are currently celebrating 20 years since their first hit, ‘5, 6, 7, 8’. But despite two decades in-and-out of the spotlight, Steps showed they still had a passion for the songs which shot them to fame. Their love of performance was clear through their grateful and humble attitude; thanking the crowd for their support on a number of occasions throughout the night.
Audiences exuded joy and it seemed the whole stadium left feeling positive, with Whaddon Road filled with smiling faces at home time.
Support acts for this tour were excellently selected, with Blue showing they truly did earn their place on the bedroom walls of many members of the audience!
Despite heavy thunderstorms being predicted all evening, crowds and organisers were lucky to endure only a short shower. After such an uplifting night of music, a spot of rain could not have dampened the spirits of this crowd.
There were plenty of food and drink options available at the stadium including a Pimms stall, Prosecco stand, a bar and a number of fast food options. For a one-night event, there seemed to be a good choice, even if they did come with ‘festival-style’ pricing – £8 for a flute of Prosecco!
It was an excellently organised event, which ran surprisingly smoothly for the first show of its scale at Cheltenham Town’s LCI Rail Stadium. We look forward to hearing about the club’s next booking.
If you’re able to stand, standing tickets at the arena provided a better view of the action on stage. Large screens were in place for those further back or sat in the stadium seats, but they seemed far away in comparison to those standing on the pitch.
We would also recommend getting dropped off and picked up from the venue if possible. Parking is limited and must be booked and paid for in advance. With the nearest public car park in Cheltenham town centre, this can be an added expense and long walk to add to your evening if you’ve been standing all night, especially for older revelers or those with young children.
For more information, see LCI Rail Stadium or call (01242) 573558.
By Melissa Hamblett
Sunday 27 May 2018
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