JLS, Edinburgh Castle, review: Five star crowd work with a Scottish twist

A slick show to the delight the castle crowd

JLS were impressively committed to showing their Scottish fans just how much they care at their Castle Concert. In one of many sections of well-worked between-song banter, they invited the audience to teach them the No Scotland No Party anthem, when a chorus of it was struck up in the crowd. Later on, they got together in their own four-part rendition of Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Aff a Bus, and the accents weren’t bad.

The quartet (Oritsé, Marvin, Aston and JB) are old hands at this game. It’s been nearly sixteen years since they came second in the X-Factor to Alexandra Burke, and since then they’ve racked up half a decade of huge home-grown success, a six-year split and a 2019 reunion, touring with vigorous enthusiasm since then.

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Mostly ‘hot dads’ in their late thirties, they’re now a heritage boy band, but with plenty of energy to keep the glory days in mind. The crowd (vastly majority female, a high proportion around the same age as the band) let out delighted teenage swoons at the onstage sight of a backflip, or a jacket coming off to reveal a vest top. Although on a night when the rain fell like heavy mist, kudos to anyone in the group for shedding layers.

JLS perform on stage in 2021. Photo: PAJLS perform on stage in 2021. Photo: PA
JLS perform on stage in 2021. Photo: PA

The show was as much about the repartee and the emotional connection between group and crowd, but the best of the music helped defeat the weather too. Amid reading out the audience’s suggestive signs and firing free T-shirts from an air cannon, the group delivered sexy club bangers like So Many Girls and The Club is Alive, and tender ballads including Take a Chance On Me and Proud.

The big hits Beat Again and Everybody in Love arrived at the end, but the highlight was a corny but extremely efficient segment featuring a mock DJ battle, where they split off into pairs and fired their own deep cuts and some classic pop hits (Justin Bieber’s Baby, Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us and so on) at one another. The show was slick with practiced, largely predictable polish, but their crowdwork was five-star.

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