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Renowned For Sound

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Live Review: JLS – 4th November 2021 – O2 Arena, London, UK

4 min read

With the popularity of boy bands seeing a slightly unexpected resurgence over the last year or so with the likes of pop heavyweights Westlife reuniting and The Wanted announcing their return to the studio and stage, it seemed only fitting that one of the UK’s most successful and celebrated pop quartets, JLS would follow suit.

While the band – made up of members Aston Merrygold, Ortise Williams, Marvin Humes and JB Gill – may not have performed together as a group for the best part of 8 years, one wouldn’t have thought so as they demanded the iconic O2 stage in Greenwich last night with energy, conviction and solidarity; performing hit after hit for a crowd that were fully prepared to lose their voices for the quartet as the sang along to a weighty greatest hits set from the former X Factor outfit.

With new album 2.0 gearing up for release on December 3rd, this latest tour was less a promotional activity for the new release and more of a celebration of their success and of their reunion, so it would seem highly likely that these massive arena shows may just be a warm up to something new in the New Year.

The bands string of number one hits helped shape a meaty set list with signature floor fillers Beat Again, opening number The Club Is Alive, which had the boys burst up from beneath the stage to perform the hit, and Love You More being strategically placed within the set list and keeping fans consistently eager for each tracks delivery as they waited for their favourite song to be dished up.

A giant HD screen was placed as the stage backdrop and kept the arena lit up with striking visuals for the groups performance of Take A Chance On Me; waves crashing on several box screen props positioned over the stage which added further spectacle to the show as well as the bursting flames throughout Do You Feel What I Feel.

Fellow music Tinie Tempah made a cameo appearance on the screens for Eyes Wide Shut while the Taio Cruz co-written Keep You had everyone in the arena bouncing along to the quartet for the audience voted floor filler.

A jukebox style filling to the show had the group deliver snippets of several career notables including the upbeat So Many Girls, while the announcement of new album 2.0 by band member JB Gill was the perfect opportunity to showcase a live rendition of lead single Eternal Love.

Now, I know many fans will come for me for saying something slightly controversial here. It was blatantly evident that JLS has only grown stronger vocally – as a band and individually – and their tight choreographed dance moves cannot be questioned, but one thing that I couldn’t help but notice was that their songs did tend to bleed into each other. So much so that it was difficult at times to know when one song stopped and another started.

While the crowd certainly lapped each track up, most of the numbers performed sounded like quite generic R&B tinged pop tracks and few had the ability to truly stand out. Adding to that was the fact that all four members of the group sounded like the exact same person. With the exception of Gill, who showcased some particularly high notes from time to time, if you closed your eyes there would be no way of knowing who was singing, regardless of their skill and talent. Because of this there was no way of each individual member adding anything truly special to their performances.

Yes, we know they can sing exceptionally well. There is absolutely no disputing that. But we also know that Geri Halliwell isn’t exactly the greatest singer on the planet but you can walk out of any Spice Girls concert knowing the role she played because each member of that group sound different and is able to add their own stamp to their shows, regardless of skill. In fact, being able to stand out on your own and be unique is a skill in itself.

That all being said, last nights performance by a quartet clearly missed by their fans, was something to admire. Time away from the spotlight can be career suicide for a band. Stay away for too long and an act may find themselves completely irrelevant if they don’t do a comeback just right, but from the sights and sounds of a full and rowdy crowd that very quickly filled the venue for the first of four shows at the O2 Arena this month, JLS’s shine is very far from fading.

Set list:

The Club Is Alive
Do You Feel What I Feel
One Shot
Take a Chance on Me
Eyes Wide Shut
Only Tonight
Day One
Love You More
Keep You/ Tightrope / Heal This Heartbreak/ Only Making Love/ I Know What She Likes
Better For You
So Many Girls (Accapella Snippet)
Umbrella (Rihanna cover)
That’s My Girl/ Kickstart (Accapella Snippet)
Close to You
If I Ever (Video Interlude)
Hottest Girl in the World
She Makes Me Wanna
Eternal Love
Beat Again

Encore:
Proud
Everybody In Love