Judging by the thousands of people pouring towards the Utilita Arena in Newcastle, the return of pop favourites Steps to the North East has brought pop fans out of their lockdown slumbers. Watching as those same glammed-up fans dance their way down to the street as Steps hits boom out from a stereo system someone has set up and you know this is going to be a party.
Inside the arena, disco star Sophie Ellis-Bextor is the person tasked with warming up the crowd and she certainly does that with her energetic and slightly nostalgic trip through some of her biggest disco hits. Revealing how she has just signed up for Children In Need promising to do a 24-hour dance, Sophie’s set is packed with anthems like “Crying at the Discotheque” and a run-through of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. Her asking the crowd to make sure Steps can hear them backstage is met with a resounding roar from the crowd and, as she winds up her set with hit single “Murder on the Dancefloor”, she leaves the stage with Newcastle up and ready to party.
Image Gallery Manchester Arena. Photo Copyright © Stephen Farrell
Shortly before half-past eight, a countdown brings the crowd up on their feet again ready for the return of the pop superstars. The noise is piercing as a huge Steps logo illuminates the arena and, before the crowd get a chance to catch breath, the pop five-piece are on stage and into the opening number “What The Future Holds”. An energetic opener, this is just a taste for what is to come in their whopping twenty-four song set but what a start.
Despite having not been on tour for nearly two years, the band throw themselves into the kind of energetic dance routines you have come to expect from the group. As for the setlist, with a new album to promote, the band mix up the set with a selection of new songs and, even though the album is barely months old, the reaction from the crowd shows that they’ve taken the new album to their hearts. Alongside the new tracks, the band pepper their set with a fantastic selection of covers including “Chain Reaction” by the iconic Diana Ross, “The Slightest Touch” by Five Star, “Better The Devil You Know” by Kylie Minogue and “Last Thing on My Mind” by Bananarama.
Early on in the set when the band take a break, Faye Tozer takes the time out to explain how she moved to Newcastle a few years ago before revealing that there are members of her own family sitting in the crowd, one of whom is at their first Steps show. An emotional moment for everyone concerned especially the singer who has a huge grin on her face.
So, we’ve had the fantastic costumes and the energetic dance routines but what Steps show wouldn’t be complete without the hits? and, again, the Steps gang don’t disappoint. With fans apparently divided by the setlist when the band kicked off the tour in Sheffield, there was no hint of that in Newcastle as the likes of first single “5,6,7,8” along with “Love’s Got a Hold on My Heart” and more recent singles like “Neon Blue” and “Take Me For A Ride.”
Of course, the best is saved for last as the group bring the house down in Newcastle with a riotous version of their Bee Gees cover “Tragedy”. What started as a cold, dreary Monday night in Newcastle ended with one of the best UK pop bands around sending thousands of ecstatic fans dancing their way home after one of the best nights they’ve probably had in a long, long time.
Steps Set List
What the Future Holds
One for Sorrow
Heartbreak in This City
Take Me for a Ride
JukeBox (Baby Love/It’s Not Unusual/… more )
After The Love Has Gone
Something in Your Eyes
Say You’ll Be Mine
Chain Reaction (Diana Ross cover)
Story Of A Heart
It’s the Way You Make Me Feel
The Slightest Touch (Five Star cover)
A Hundred Years of Winter
Last Thing on My Mind (Bananarama cover)
To the Beat of My Heart
Better the Devil You Know (Kylie Minogue cover)
Love’s Got a Hold on My Heart
Summer of Love
Better Best Forgotten
Deeper Shade of Blue
Here and Now
Scared Of The Dark
Tragedy (Bee Gees cover)
Image Galleries Manchester Arena. Photo Copyright © Stephen Farrell