Mel Chisholm was always reputed to be the strongest singer in The Spice Girls, and has certainly eked out the most respectable solo career, attracting fans from Europe and the Americas to this first night of her latest tour promoting new album, Version of Me. But it was clear that she took nothing for granted, her trepidation over the reception of her perceived new sound manifesting itself in nervous chit-chat throughout proceedings.
ABC, Glasgow **
What new sound meant in practise was a slightly trendier iteration of the dance pop style she has defaulted to over the years, applied to a slew of earnestly delivered mediocre pop songs, often on the theme of self-discovery, which were gussied up with vogueish window dressing – a bass drop here, some quirky synth trickery there. As Chisholm theatrically bashed a barely audible drum, her lyrical query “is it enough?” on new track Escalator became an unwitting rhetorical question.
The likes of the functional disco track Anymore, opaque electro pop number Something for the Fire and Unravelling, with its heftier pretensions, all compared poorly with her straight cover of Rag’n’Bone Man’s Human, despite lacking his weighty soul tones.
Inevitably, she was on stronger territory when cherrypicking from her back catalogue, showcasing the notably stronger hooks of Never Be The Same Again, bolstered by an impish burst of a Justin Timberlake riff, The Spice Girls’ Say You’ll Be There, and her millennial club anthem I Turn To You, on which she finally shook off the awkwardness.