In Depth

Cheryl Cole leads way as Girls Aloud give fans hit after hit

They were manufactured by a TV show a decade ago, but Girls Aloud are now 'part of the pop landscape'

A STRING of chart hits, plenty of sparkly, revealing costumes and a large dose of "nostalgia and emotion" – the Girls Aloud reunion gives crowds "exactly what they want", says The Guardian's Dave Simpson.

A decade ago, when the five-member group first appeared on the reality TV show Popstars: The Rivals, no-one expected them to last much beyond the final episode, he writes. But here they are: "part of the pop landscape".

The reunion tour is called Ten: The Hits and it delivers exactly what it promises. Audiences are treated to 20 Girls Aloud hits - including four No. 1 singles - in "near-chronological order". The show starts with 2002's "edgy electronic" Sound of the Underground and culminates with the recent Something New.

Simpson says the easy rapport between the women - a couple of whom are now in their 30s - is beguiling. The group hug at the end of the show is "so palpably genuine that you wouldn't bet against them doing this in another 10 years' time," he writes.

The London Evening Standard's Andre Paine says "the music was often close to pop perfection". None of the group's five members stand out as "star performers" - and Sarah Harding appears "semi-detached" at times - but they all work hard in a show "that was never short of self-belief".

If the group does have a natural leader, it's Cheryl Cole who exuded "an aura of exalted celebrity status", says Paine.

MTV's Joanne Dorken agrees, describing Cole as a "dominant force". "She seemed the most comfortable, taking charge and shouting 'Hello London' in her very familiar Geordie twang," writes Dorken in her review of a concert at London's O2.

Audiences have also been enraptured by the tour which begins a two-night residency at Manchester Arena tonight. "Cheryl gave it her all, what a proper trooper," one fan tweeted.

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