It was like they never left.
The Spice Girls returned to Madison Square Garden on Monday night in all their girl-power-British-accented-matching-gold-lame glory. The packed stadium of about 20,000 fans — probably 18,000 of them girls — felt so much like a throwback to their glory days of the late ’90s that it was hard to believe they hadn’t toured in 10 years. They have the same flirty giggles, the same mini-dresses with British flags printed on them and, to the delight of the entire crowd (myself included), mostly the same songs.
Whether or not you think you’ve grown out of your Spice Girls phase (I surely haven’t), you can’t deny that they put on a damn good show. Madison Square Garden was a full-scale production, complete with a huge digital screen rimmed in vanity-style lights. The screen flashed pictures of everything from “Spice World” (their 1997 film) scenes of the girls cuddled in neon robes to the girls’ babies. At the end of one of the earlier songs, the floor of the stage opened and the girls sank below stage. The crowd grew fidgety that it might be over so soon. We’d waited 10 years!
The Spice Girls for whom we’ve grown nostalgic haven’t changed. They’re still yelling for “girl power around the world” in between songs. They’re still not quite wholesome, despite this girl-power gig — during one song, five stripper poles sank down from the ceiling and the girls went to town, and during another, they stepped behind five white heart-shaped screens to do a very visible costume change. And of course, they’re still busting out “Wannabe,” their first hit single, their Spiciest song.
But some things have definitely changed since the girls took sabbatical from the public eye. They’ve grown up. Roberto Cavalli designed the sparkling minidresses and matching black and white tuxedos for the show. They sang songs from their new album (the crowd sat for most of them — we needed a break after screaming along to “Spice Up Your Life”). They’ve visibly aged (well, some of them — Victoria looks younger than she did in the ’90s). The crowd has aged too. Most of the girls shouting “The Lady Is a Vamp’ and crooning to “When Two Become One” were nearing 20.
The best addition to the act? Spice babies! Monday’s show was a family affair. During “Mama,” off their 1996 album “Spice,” the girls’ kids joined them on stage. Melanie, Geri and Emma held their respective Spice toddlers (each wearing ear mufflers to block the booming noise) and Victoria’s three boys tumbled around stage. Her youngest, Cruz Beckham, stole the show, break-dancing and spinning on his head. Spice Mommies? As if we needed one more reason to love them.