JLS – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Tuesday February 2.
When you’re a new pop act, setting out on your first full-scale tour with just one album under your belt, stretching out your material to fill a ninety minute show can be quite a challenge. To their credit, JLS pulled the trick off rather well, adding some well chosen covers – Boyz II Men, Rihanna’s Umbrella, a Michael Jackson medley – and giving their nifty four man dancing troupe time to show off during costume changes. All but two tracks on their debut album got an airing, and Beat Again – their first hit single – was reprised for the encore, to the eardrum-shattering delight of their mostly young female admirers.
The four lads – Aston (the pretty one), JB (the flirty one), Marvin (the lanky one) and Oritsé (the chunky one) – performed without the aid of backing musicians, save for a lone guitarist called Steve who joined them for just one song. Although this could have turned the set into little more than a souped-up club PA, the high production values of the video backdrops compensated for the loss – and at least we were spared the tedium of the customary “meet the band” section.
Appearing first on a raised platform, then slowly descending down four individual staircases, JLS began their show decked out in leather, studs and straps. One by one, they removed their shades, greeting us with looks of amazed wonder, as if our combined beauty was almost too much to behold.
Home made banners were everywhere: an illuminated “WE LOVE JLS” at the front of the circle, “1 KISS & MY HEART WILL BEAT AGAIN” in the balcony, and an optimistic “ORITSÉ’S NEW GIRLFRIEND” in the stalls, complete with helpful arrow.
The chaps lapped up the attention, milking us for every squeal. The choreography was sexy, but never lewd. T-shirts were regularly hoisted over nipples, then quickly yanked back down again. Marvin began the encore by ripping his shirt from his immaculately sculpted torso, then hurling it into the crowd. Moments later, he was fully clothed again. Shameless teasers, the lot of them.
On the way out, a lad pointed to his companion’s freshly bought poster. “You’ll have to take your Shayne Ward down now”, he reminded her. For former X Factor finalists, the road ahead can be a bumpy one – but on the evidence of last night’s show, JLS look set to enjoy a longer, smoother ride than most.
Heal This Heartbreak
If I Ever
Crazy for You
Close to You
Only Making Love
I Want You Back (Aston)
Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough (JB)
Beat It (Oritsé)
The Way You Make Me Feel (Marvin)
Beat Again (reprise)
Everybody In Love