Fireworks heralded the arrival of girl group Little Mix onstage at Falkirk Stadium, with a bit of that martial, boot-stomping tension that Beyoncé ought to get herself a patent on, before the quartet launched into the light and effortlessly catchy summertime pop of Touch. By the end of the show, however, the pyrotechnics were of an altogether more natural variety, with cracks of lightning splitting the sky and the first spots of rain from the oncoming storm landing upon the excited crowd.
Little Mix, Falkirk Stadium ***
Although the heatwave more or less ended while they were onstage, however, the British pop troupe – whose Simon Cowell-assisted rise to fame after appearing on the 2011 series of The X Factor has resulted in a full-blown pop career, a less than likely result from such beginnings – were bright and entertaining, their show a well targeted blend of pop hooks, only very lightly broached adult themes and the confident assurance of positive role models. Their costumes and set bore a bright retro-futurist aesthetic, with one foot in the 1980s and one firmly in the present.
The overwhelming majority of Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s audience is female, and a smaller majority were young women, or children in tow with their parents, so it was pleasing to see that much of the show was designed with this in mind. With an eight-year career behind them which allows for tracks such as early single How Ya Doin’? – which borrows from the same mélange of samples used by De La Soul on their 1991 track Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey) – to be self-described as “old-school”, they’re now in a position where they can angle themselves as elder stateswomen in their field, with all the air of big-sisterliness that involves.
“We went through a lot of judgment and scrutiny about how we look, how we dressed and how we behaved,” we were told at one point, “so we wrote this song to tell our younger selves not to listen to any of it.” The following Little Me wasn’t the only track that delivered an uncompromising message to young women, with Mama (which reflects on the advice of a mother) and the uplifting Change Your Life balancing their sometimes formulaic pop sound with an emphatic and relevant message. Most pleasing of all, of course, were the moments that involved some genuinely great pop: the irresistible disco groove of Move; the strident call to feminist action Salute, which bears echoes of Beyoncé’s Formation; and the confidently over-it main set closer Shout Out to My
Ex. At their best, they added their own electricity to the air.