“Songs are more serious than life,” quoth writer/producer Pete Waterman in a nod to Bill Shankly. You may underestimate Steps, the Waterman-steered wind-up hit machine of the late 1990s, but two decades on their songs – cheesy dilutions of the Abba/Bee Gees disco pop gold standard – have sold out a 20th anniversary arena tour with grown-up kids keyed up at the prospect of executing the elaborate handjive routines which accompany every other song.
Steps, Hydro, Glasgow ***
Pop shows have also grown up in the last 20 years and a certain level of theatrical conceptualisation is anticipated. Steps opted for a portentous Da Vinci Code build-up with hooded masked figures emerging from the dry ice to complement the hokey drama of Scared of the Dark, a bizarre hospital routine, like a fetish Carry On sequence, for their tinny cover of the actual Bee Gees-penned Chain Reaction, mirrorball helmets for the Chic-referencing Stomp and a knowingly naff hoedown theme for their line-dancing debut hit 5,6,7,8 - who would have thought a career could be built on that?
The Steps fivesome were good sports throughout as their troupe of young hoofers literally danced rings around them. There may not be an original thought behind their musical and cultural appropriation but the cheery tuneage was undeniable.
A cover of Luis Fonsi’s summer smash Despacito was a timely reminder that there is always a place for feelgood pop as a vehicle for accord – Steps unveiled a rainbow-coloured neon message Love Wins to mark the Australian same sex marriage vote and the celebrations continued with the high camp wedding encore of Tragedy.