The series finale transported us back in time as the bands performed their one-off gig at Hammersmith Apollo. The groups were anxious about taking to the stage again, doubting whether all of their hard work would actually pay off. Luckily, there were no major disasters and everyone had a good time.
A1 had nothing to worry about, as they impressively opened the gig with Take on Me, which went down a treat with the excited crowd. They were undoubtedly the best group vocally, and they were clearly comfortable on the stage. They elicited the best response from the crowd, especially when they performed Caught in the Middle. Eternal were equally slick, receiving some of the loudest cheers from the audience. Their performance of Stay was smooth and soulful, as was I Wanna Be the Only One, which featured a guest appearance from BeBe Winans whose vocals feature on the original track. Damage also brought some soul to the show, singing their velvety-smooth hit Love II Love and driving the crowd mad.
Girl Thing were less impressive, however. They certainly looked the part, but it sounded like they mimed their entire set. The audience were singing along happily nonetheless and afterwards, the girls said that they felt they ended the band on their own terms, giving them some closure on their short pop career. 3T’s set was somewhat disappointing; they wailed their way through I Need You and Why, and looked awkward and sullen throughout their whole set. They dedicated a track to their late mother and uncle, and the sentiment was touching, but it risked being too corny. Over the course of the series, the boys have complained of being overshadowed by their famous family, yet still chose to centre their performances on their relatives instead of seizing the opportunity to grab the spotlight.
5th Story were surprisingly enjoyable, even though they were feeling the pressure more than their fellow groups. Their first track Freak Me sounded wobbly due to Dane’s sore throat, but Breathe Again and I Can Make You Feel Good redeemed them. They closed the show on a high with the energetic Spirit in the Sky and seemed to genuinely enjoy their time on the stage.
The gig definitely had its weak points, but the groups’ hard work did not go to waste. The crowd were visibly entertained, and there were even some familiar faces from last year’s series singing and dancing along. Admittedly, this year’s line-up was not as thrilling, but for pop-lovers like me, it’s still great to indulge in nostalgia.