Music

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want: a second chance

Is the Spice Girls' Victoria-free 2019 UK stadium tour one last cash grab or just the tonic Britain needs as it prepares to crash out of the EU? Malcolm Jack knows of someone who may want to banish the Brexit blues...

It was morning in the Cotswolds, as David Cameron sat fidgeting nervously by the telephone while Samantha made final adjustments to the hem of his ill-fitting Union Jack dress where it clung to his unshaven thigh. His old friend, Spice Girls manager Heath Bexley-Crumpet, had tipped him off as to impending announcement of the Girl Power™ group’s latest reunion, scheduled for the glorious post-EU summer of 2019, and Dave really, really, really wanted in.

Rumour had it that Posh – too preoccupied with designing clothes worn by nobody anyone has ever met – was out. In the cleft left by the rich one with the dim footballer husband, the ex-PM could taste the sweet taste of redemption and rehabilitation in the public eye at last. Arise, Posher Spice! Flanked by his equally clapped-out but unbowed bandmates, he would ride high on a new wave of Cool Britannia, as the UK ventured forth gloriously once more, unmoored at last from the tyrannical scourge of the foreigner.

When the call finally came, Samantha didn’t even need to ask what the verdict was, as the blood drained from cheeks which had been so fleetingly restored of their boyish glow. Casting his fiery wig upon the begonias and stomping off ridiculously across the garden in three-inch platform trainers, slamming the door of the designer shepherd’s hut behind him, David retreated to his private sanctuary to scream the eternal Brexit scream once again and forevermore. “Zigazig aaaaaarrrrggghhhh!” he cried.

Preferring to strike out as a sans-Victoria four-piece this time, without resort to replacement for Posh (sorry, Dave), the Spice Girls are back. Is their impending stadium tour precisely the concert experience Brexit Britain deserves as we’re hurled into a weird vortex of vacant sloganeering, patriotism and nostalgia after March 29? Sensing their moment, are we witnessing a cynical cash-grab from four artists whose solo careers have between them yielded about as much success as David Davis’s busted-flush stint as Britain’s negotiator-in-chief? Or am I being brutally unfair, and are the Spice Girls actually a fun and important pop band meriting of a timely return to the limelight (with no relevance to Brexit whatsoever)?

Will renewed vows hold in the heat of the moment or be conveniently forgotten, like so many commitments to an Irish backstop?

Costing well upside of £100 a ticket to attend, the Spice World 2019 shows will take place  from the end of May, which if apocalyptic No Deal forecasts prove true means it’ll be around the same time that we’re reduced to fighting our neighbours over dead rats for sustenance. Just the ridiculously expensive light entertainment relief we’ll all need, then (dead rat burgers £15 at stadium catering). Spice Girls’ previous comeback tour in 2007-8 started out strongly with a blockbusting 17-night stint at the O2 in London, but eventually hit the skids as old tensions reemerged and everyone fell out. Their relationships bound together again with Blu Tack, kirby grips and Sporty’s old judo belt, will renewed vows hold in the heat of the moment or be conveniently forgotten, like so many commitments to an Irish backstop?

All cynicism aside, it’s only fair to recognise what a massive influence the Spice Girls had on the future of pop in their epochal 85 million-selling heyday. Many young female fans for whom they represented a formative first music crush are in their twenties and thirties now, and seizing the music business for themselves. Adele, Katy Perry, MØ and Jess Glynne – the latter of whom will support the Spice Girls on tour – are just a few among many big stars of today who have hailed the group as a major inspiration. Spice Girls’ shouty, Prince Charles’s bum-pinching brand of feminism was always iffy, but it did its bit.

It’s worth noting that technically the band’s previous, brief reunion came during the closing ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, capping off the last time that Britain seemed to genuinely feel united and good about itself. Are the Spice Girls somehow mysteriously and inexorably linked to surges in national confidence, and about to triumphantly show us that Viva really is Forever, and not just for when bank balances run low?

Even in these grimly absurd Brexit-y times, can Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Baby – maybe even Posh if she can be arsed – joyfully prove that there remains promise of redemption for us all? We can but hope. Except Dave, obviously.

Spice Girls’ Spice World tour starts in May 2019; thespicegirls.com

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