herald

Sunday 22 April 2018

Almost Five counting on boyband revival

REVIEW: Five Olympia Theatre > Chris Wasser

WE'VE got a problem here. Four microphones and four dancing bodies – it doesn't make sense. "Five bad boys with the power to rock you!" declares Abz. He's only making things worse. As it turns out, Five haven't been complete for quite some time. Missing fifth member J Brown (the tall one) had no interest in a comeback. He wasn't part of ITV2's successful reality show, The Big Reunion. Nor did he hit the road with the guys for the subsequent tour.

You'd think by now, Britain's former pop rap princes would have hired another member, or perhaps changed their name. But no, Five have decided to remain a four-piece. And this is the second time I've seen them live this year (some journalists have been promoted for less).

SQUEEZED

Tonight, resident rapper Abz thanks us for giving them a career. I wouldn't go that far, mate – you barely got four years out of the first round. Essentially an arena show squeezed into a theatre, their first headline tour as Almost Five (my new name for them) at least shows signs of effort (they even brought a ramp). At first, they wear winter coats – not matching ones, though, because that'd be naff. There are live musicians, too. A throwback to a time when lads like these sold millions. Almost Five never had great material and they never quite mastered the art of singing. But Abz and his men deliver their greatest hits (Keep on Movin', Everybody Get Up, Let's Dance) with such sweaty flair and dedication, that you begin to wonder if they're the only ones that aren't in on the joke. It's 12 years since they split – every member is still in his 30s. So, save for some dodgy fashion choices, they still look ... okay.

The Olympia is jammed with women. And the cheesy, choreographed dance moves still drive 'em wild. Scott knows we might not appreciate the relentless ballads, but hey, it's just one night.

And I've seen worse. I've also seen better. Christ, I've seen Five too many times for one man. A likeable bunch, for sure. But the songs ...

HHIII

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