Little Mix, Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Monday January 28
Originally published in the Nottingham Post.
It has not been an easy few days for Little Mix. On Sunday, a tabloid kiss-and-tell accused One Direction’s Zayn Malik of cheating on band member Perrie Edwards (she’s the one with the purple hair). Cutting short a promotional visit to France, Zayn flew into town for crisis talks. The couple were snapped in a Nottingham taxi, not looking especially lovey-dovey; Zayn in particular looked downright sheepish.
On Monday morning, Leigh-Anne from the band took to Twitter, crossly denying that any cheating had taken place. (“He loves her so much.”) And by Monday evening, as the girls made their way to the Royal Concert Hall, press speculation had reached fever pitch. How would Perrie cope with the pressures of the stage show? Would she stand by her man, or would she flip him the finger and show him the door? Would there be tears, tirades, an onstage meltdown? Well, the hacks could only hope.
Sadly for the gossip-hounds, but happily for the hordes of young “Little Mixers” who had been looking forward to the show for months, the girls put on their best smiles and sailed cheerfully through the show, never once referring to the Zayn-and-Perrie incident. This was only the third date of their first full tour, and the 2011 X Factor champions still had a lot to prove.
Bouncing onto the stage in crop tops and baggy blue trousers, they launched straight into We Are Who We Are, from their debut album DNA. A troupe of buff boy dancers joined them for Stereo Soldier, the equally chirpy second number, with shirts tied round their waists in case it got a bit parky.
“Thanks for supporting us from the start”, said Jesy, explaining that the girls had become “my best friends and my family”. As the foursome hoofed through Always Be Together, video footage showed them goofing around in dressing rooms and on tour buses. During one of the costume changes, mini-interviews with each band member flashed onto the screens. Leigh-Anne revealed her beauty tips (“cleanse, tone and moisturise”), and Jesy shared her life lessons (“I’ve learned to have more confidence in myself”).
Despite an overly shrill sound mix – a faithful reproduction of their album, but only if you were used to hearing it through laptop speakers or on a smartphone – the girls delivered a convincing, polished performance. Chart-topping single Wings was an early highlight – so much so, that they reprised it for the encore – and an unaccompanied rendition of En Vogue’s Hold On, with gorgeous four-part harmonies, proved that they could deliver vocally. Other covers included Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass, TLC’s No Scrubs and Katy Perry’s E.T.
“Sometimes, being in Little Mix is like a curse”, Jesy confessed towards the end of the show. She never got round to explaining why, but perhaps recent events had reminded her of just how tough life can be at the top. If that was so, then hopefully the ear-shredding screams of the ever-loyal Little Mixers had helped to lift the curse, at least for one more night.