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Live Review: Blue – 13th December 2022 – O2 Arena, London UK

5 min read
Boy band @officialblue arrive and confidently conquer London's @TheO2 Arena as part of the Heart and Soul tour. Our full review.... @Halestormpr

Like so many shows over the last few years, UK fans of early noughties boyband Blue have waited a long time to see their idols back on stage and performing their hits for them. The lads were originally penciled in to tour the UK a year ago but decided against it due to the then-rampant Covid, but the new tour dates fit in perfectly with the recent release of their latest studio album, Heart and Soul which saw its unveiling back in late October. Now everything appears to be back on track as the One Love hitmakers make their way around some of the biggest arenas in the UK and we were lucky enough to catch Lee, Duncan, Simon and Anthony as the tour touched down at the capitals iconic O2 arena last night.

The group were keen to offer a nostalgic dose of entertainment for their fans and so enlisted the help of 90’s Irish power-pop quartet, B*witched to support the tour, getting the crowd nice and warm before the arrival of the headlining foursome with hits including Rollercoaster, Blame It on the Weatherman and C’est la vie, as well as an impressive cover of Wilson Phillips’, Hold On.

After a brief piano intro, the boys arrived to a deafening applause – taking position atop a stage packed with metal steps and dressed smartly in match black suits; Lee opting for a sparkling version perhaps to draw attention to his leading man role within the outfit.

The band wasted no time in reminding the audience of their musical triumphs as they dove straight into a cover of Elton John’s Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word; a number the band not just covered but also collaborated with alongside the Rocket Man hitmaker back in 2002. They then took us on a journey through newer numbers that feature on the outfits latest and sixth studio album – the title track, the incredibly catchy Haven’t Found You Yet, Magnetic and Ultraviolet introducing us to a more matured version of the former chart topping boppers and reminding us of the vocal unity the boys add to their records, making them feel more rich, full and sophisticated; each member getting their time to shine on verses or chorus’s, much like the majority of their earlier repertoire where delivery was a shared task.

Having sold over 15 million records in their time, it wasn’t hard to fill the set with some of pops most recognized hits from the outfits 20+ years together and the night was not just a celebration of their time as a band but also, as Anthony drew attention to – it was the first arena tour for the group in 17 years, before trying to convince the newbies in the crowd that they were “One Direction’s uncles”, which had the crowd laughing.

New songs like the sexually pulsating Dance With Me sat confidently beside a plethora of early career notables including U Make Me Wanna. The second portion of the night dove deep into the bands early years with more prominent singles like Fly By and a cover of Next’s Too Close getting the near sold-out O2 crowd really worked up; the latter pulling support act Megan McKenna back onstage to help perform the number.

Dishing up a slick medley consisting on perfectly weaved together classics Get Ready, Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours and Get Down On It, the lads offered a suave slice of Motown as they changed into matching red dress jackets and melted the crowds hearts with their impeccable and unweathered vocal skills.

During the show all 4 members were able to showcase their individual talents behind the mic. While Blue’s emergence into the pop world was wedged between an unfortunate lull on boyband pop and the cool that returned in the genre several years later, they have always remained a force to be reckoned with and that is evident no just in the hits they have racked up over the course of a 22 year career in one of the most fickle, impatient and unforgiving industries, but also in the tightness of their vocals – as individual artists in their own right and as a refined unit. While the stage design and backdrop left a lot to be desired (there was a lot packed on the stage but little going on around the lads moving positions to deliver the songs) the quartet really held their own in one of the country’s biggest and most intimidating venues.

After a memorable performance of their very first single, All Rise, One Love closed the show and was delivered as a more stripped back and mellow rendition compared to the band’s original recording nearly two decades back. This really allowed the foursomes individual and harmonised vocals to take centre stage, transforming the upbeat number into a more moving, down tempo career highlight as the band stood stop their raised stage structure and bowed out to their fans for another stellar addition to the successful lap of the UK. While my personal favourite Blue track (If You Come Back) didn’t make the cut, it was well worth the freezing temperatures and train strikes to get to see the band conquer London’s O2 Arena.

Set list:
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word (Elton John cover)
Heart And Soul
Haven’t Found You Yet
U Make Me Wanna
Magnetic
Ultraviolet
Paradise
Get Ready / Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours / Get Down on It
King of the World
Guilty/Long Time
Breathe Easy
Too Close (Next cover)
Dance With Me
Curtain Falls
Fly By
Bubblin’
All Rise

Encore:
One Love