Over the last twelve months, there has been an influx of reformed ’90s groups touring, including the successful (Aqua’s day-glo Palace performance) and the haggard (the money-hoovering twin-hybrid of NKOTBSB); but the most part, they’ve been good-natured and all-round fun.

As a child of the nineties and a lover of all things pop music, the opportunity to review S Club was something too tantalizing to miss and for a week the excitement built.

Sadly, the optimism and eagerness that this reviewer approached the show with was totally at odds with what was eventually presented. The horror story that was the S Club/Big Brovaz show at The Palace was something different altogether.

As a generic DJ warmed up the crowd with a set of ’90s staples, at one point launching into his own dance number, the room filled slowly. As the DJ tired of dancing, a punter was overheard remarking “that could be the highlight of the evening.” These words were to ring eerily prophetic. The 400 women singing “I Will Always Love You” are almost deafening, in less than an hour the idea of being temporarily unable to hear will look very attractive. Somewhere Whitney Houston is spinning so hard in her grave she has drilled for oil.

As the lights dim, the intro to “Nu Flow” plays before cutting out to the arrival of Big Brovaz, missing three members, and apparently their cue too. It seems to take a minute or two for the audience to actually remember them, but when they do they are received kindly.

The female components of the group, Nadia and Cherise, perform “Boogie 2Nite”… and then retire to a couple seats at the back of the stage, lip-synching 70% of their set must be exhausting business indeed. As J-Rock and Randy bust out ho-hum pop-hop tunes, the use of a backing tape becomes more and more apparent. They have no choreography and appear to have fallen off their plane and onto the stage.

The girls make their way off their seats for a so-so rendition of “Favourite Things” and when they bust out the “Ghetto Waltz”, it is kind of charming, but makes the lack of care for the rest of their set blindingly obvious. Then it’s back to the chairs once again for “Baby Boy”. Nadia remarks to the, by now over it, crowd “Do you guys know this song? Not many of you are singing”.

Funnily enough, she doesn’t seem to be doing much singing either. They amble off-stage as a nearby punter grumbles “that was so bad I wanted to punch a small child and vomit with rage”.

After an interlude of more nostalgic favourites, including popular choices “Cotton Eye Joe” and “Freestyler”, the lights dim once again and “S CLUB” appears on the video screen above the stage. Footage of drummers and a huge audience plays as the lights suddenly rise to reveal S Club… 3? The backing music of “S Club Party” booms but the three remaining S Club members, Jo O’Meara, Paul Cattermole and Bradley McIntosh already look uncomfortable.

While they sing of ‘Tina doing her dance, Jon looking for romance, Hannah screaming out for more and Rachel doing her thing’, it just seems to highlight the fact that the aforementioned members have moved on to greener pastures.

To make matters worse, the video screen continues to play film clips from their golden days which only makes the scene onstage sadder. Paul seems to have been in a good pasture for the last eight years and Jo looks like someone’s mum after a hard night at Daisey’s over 28’s.

To add insult to injury, the backing tape seems to be doing all of the work. Jo’s once poptastic voice continually cracks, falters and totally misses any notes she attempts. She doesn’t even bother to try and keep up by the end. S Club 3 lethargically wheeze their way through what is best described as a medley of their hits (they do not actually sing one full song for their entire set) and it quickly becomes an embarrassing sight. “Two In A Million” and “Bring it All Back” being particular lowlights.

Having seen Aqua successfully stage a comeback only a few months ago, the all-too obvious holes in the S Club Party begin to grow and eventually unravel the whole show. Inexplicably, some members of the crowd are singing along happily. Had they stopped doing the work of the performers onstage they probably would have realized that their ears were bleeding.

The lack of any expense spent is everywhere. From the poor sound and video, to the lack of any form of stage set and the fact that the trio have not bothered with any semblance of sound-check or rehearsal. Disappointment is etched onto the faces of the majority of the audience. Sure, it is not the coolest or biggest of gigs but the overall impression is that not one of the performers gives a shit and are willing to make a mockery of themselves in order to get paid.

While the $60 ticket price is a pittance in comparison to a Prince ticket for example, it is still money, and far too expensive for the substandard performance delivered.

Turns out there is a party like an S Club Party.

You know that end-of-year party you had in primary school? The one where the male teachers dressed as women and badly lip-synched to “Love Shack”? Imagine that with $10 spirits and you’re pretty close to tonight’s effort.

Or for the S Club experience at home, turn on a chainsaw, throw it in a meat grinder and set fire to your money.

– Maddy Thomas