|Tour by Spice Girls|
Tour programme cover
|Start date||24 February 1998|
|End date||20 September 1998|
|No. of shows||56 in Europe
41 in North America
|Spice Girls concert chronology|
The Spiceworld Tour (also known as Spice Girls in Concert and the Girl Power Tour '98) was the debut concert tour by British girl group the Spice Girls. It was launched in support of their second studio album Spiceworld (1997). The sell-out European/North American tour ran from February to August 1998, after which it returned to the UK in September 1998 for a series of stadium shows. The final concert at London's Wembley Stadium was filmed and broadcast live on pay-per-view, for later VHS release in 1998 and eventual DVD release in 2008. The tour saw the group perform to an estimated 2.1 million fans in total, covering Britain, Europe and North America. The 40-date sold-out American leg of the tour grossed $60 million.
The Spiceworld Tour was the first global tour staged by the group, and proved to be an almost instant sell-out. Tickets for the first two shows in Ireland sold out within 2 hours, and various shows on the North American leg such as Los Angeles, Toronto and Philadelphia sold out within mere minutes of sale. In New York City, the group set the record for the quickest ever sell-out, selling 13,000 tickets for Madison Square Garden in less than 12 minutes. Such was the interest, it led to State Attorney General Dennis Vacco (together with the co-operation of the group) to investigate whether illegal scalping to ticket brokers had taken place - a claim that was later dropped by the Attorney General's office.
The tour kicked off in Dublin, Ireland on 24 February 1998 before moving on to mainland Europe. Days before the end of the European portion of the tour, Geri Halliwell did not appear for shows in Oslo, Norway. Halliwell's final performances occurred in Helsinki, Finland at the Hartwall Arena. Promotional appearances with the new 4-piece promoting the release of 'Viva Forever' on the National Lottery also claimed that Halliwell was ill. On May 30, 1998, Halliwell announced her departure from the Spice Girls. Through her solicitor she stated: "Sadly I would like to confirm that I have left the Spice Girls. This is because of differences between us. I'm sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best.". The Spice Girls quickly released a statement which stated that the North American leg of the tour would continue as planned with the remaining group members.
Against a futuristic space-age themed backdrop, the show began with a CGI video introduction of a spaceship flying through the galaxy. The introduction included William Shatner as the narrator in a parody of his famous Star Trek title sequence speech, and included samples from "Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1" and "Mama". The spaceship was shown to land on earth and as its doors appeared to open so did the door at the back of the stage to reveal the Spice Girls. The group members were dressed in futuristic costumes, the first of 11 costume changes. They entered the stage performing "If U Can't Dance", followed by "Who Do You Think You Are", which included an introduction sample from Club 69's "Diva" and RuPaul's "Supermodel (You Better Work)". Accompanied by the tour dancers, referred to as the "Spice Boys", the group then performed "Do It" as their third song during the European leg of the tour; for the North American leg the third song was changed to "Step To Me".
After a costume change, the group returned to stage to perform "Denying". In this performance, Geri Halliwell played the role of a waitress, Mel B the role of a gambler, Victoria Adams the role of a dancer, Emma Bunton the role of a gangster's girlfriend and Melanie C the role of a club owner. The group then sang "Too Much" sat down on chairs. After another costume change, the group performed "Stop". Kenny Ho, their stylist and costume designer, dressed the group in '60s themed clothing to fit the Motown-influenced song. Halliwell's costume was inspired by Madonna's "Holiday section from her Blond Ambition World Tour. After "Stop", Bunton sang a solo rendition of "Where Did Our Love Go?" by The Supremes. Bunton had stated that "I've always been a fan of Diana Ross, that song is perfect for me, it's just the right pitch. I wouldn't want to do a song I found hard to sing." The group then performed Move Over", portraying supermodels on a runway, dressed in outrageous, outlandish clothes. The dancers, dressed in black, play the role of photographers. Originally, they were going to have Adams wear a chainmail Versace dress with linked gold squares. However, the dress was too heavy and too impractical for maintenance. After the performance of "Move Over", there was a thirty-minute intermission.
The second segment begins with "The Lady Is A Vamp". For this performance, the group wore tailcoats and danced with canes, while the dancers wore bowler hats. The group performed "Naked" next, singing from behind chairs to give the illusion that they were naked. The group then sang "2 become 1" wearing velvet catsuits. Ho wanted something luxurious, but not too over the top and felt that velvet was perfect, and it matched the song's feel as well, which was quiet and atmospheric. After "2 Become 1", they performed "Walk of Life". Mel B & Melanie C then covered "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves", which was originally sung by Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin. The group then returned to the stage and sang "Wannabe", "Spice Up Your Life" and "Mama". For their performance of "Mama", they set on steps above the stage, with three huge video screens projecting childhood photos of each member. In their next performance of "Viva Forever", all five group members were dressed in white clothing, as their costume designer Ho wanted their outfits to reflect a sense of purity and spirituality to fit the song. They were originally going to put dry ice on the stage, but the idea was dropped because it would have made the stage slippery, dangerous and very hard to dance on. During some performances of "Viva Forever", Chisholm would ad-lib the line "Spice Girls forever", in place of "viva forever", towards the end of the song. The show ended with a '70s theme, with each group member dressed in a colour scheme arranged by their costume designer Ho to fit their style and character. Brown had a lot of patches of animal prints and greens; Halliwell's tones were different reds and purples; Bunton's were almost entirely bright red, pale blues and pink; Chisholm had very bright colours and Adams had patchwork on her corset. During the encore of the show, they sang "Never Give Up On The Good Times" and a cover of the Sister Sledge song "We Are Family". The Spice Girls exited the stage via the same doors from which they entered on top of the staircase.
The tour received mixed reviews. Natalie Nichols of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "[t]heir energy and dedication were sincere, even though the music was all unconvincing dance grooves and slick soul-pop, lightly seasoned with funk, hip-hop and rock by a bland six-piece band." On the other hand, The New York Times' Jon Pareles felt that "the songs, more than the act, are their real asset. [...] These numbers are exuberant, direct and immediately likeable, and they've turned a group of hard-working but only moderately gifted performers into stars."
BBC News noted the audiences were mostly composed of families, and that even "most of the parents there seemed to be enjoying themselves". Gilbert Garcia of the Phoenix New Times wrote that: "Rarely has any concert experience so carefully worked so many marketing angles at once. For one thing, the Spice Girls have managed to carve out a niche as a pop group that even moms can love, and they offered just enough nostalgia to keep beleaguered parents happy. When Baby Spice embarked on a solo version of The Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go," or when the group launched into a spirited take on the Annie Lennox-Aretha Franklin duet "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," you could see the mothers in the crowd jump up in appreciation."
Throughout the American leg of the tour, commercials were played on large concert screens before the shows and during intermissions. It was the first time advertising had been used in pop concerts and was met with mixed reactions in the music industry. Garcia wrote that the adverts were a "strange note" in a show that otherwise "delivered what it promised". He also criticised the group's performance of Move Over, their Pepsi advert song, saying that the "rampant, near-subliminal Pepsi imagery on the video screen, seemed a tad too mercenary for even this ultracommercial setting." On the other hand, tour promoter John Scher acknowledged that, "[T]he cost of touring has become somewhat obscene. If it allows corporate sponsors to put more money into the entertainment world and allows us to see more shows, it's positive." By opening up a whole new source of revenue, industry experts predicted more acts would follow the Spice Girls' lead.
Broadcasts and recordings
The full show at Birmingham's NEC Arena was originally recorded for a live album. The full audio was broadcast live on BBC Radio 1, and was being mastered for an official release. However, the live album was not released after Halliwell's departure.
The final show at Wembley Stadium was broadcast live on 20 September 1998 on Sky One and presented by Dani Behr and Georgie Stait. A full behind the scenes tour of the stage was also aired prior to the broadcast of the Wembley Stadium concert on MuchMusic in Canada. Live at Wembley Stadium, a video release of the group's show at Wembley Stadium, was released on VHS on 24 November 1998 and on DVD on 6 October 2008.
The following setlist was obtained from the 11 July 1998 performance at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre in Toronto, Canada. It does not represent all concerts during the tour.
- "Video Sequence" (contains elements of "Wannabe", "Say You'll Be There", "2 Become 1" and "Mama")
- "If U Can't Dance"
- "Who Do You Think You Are" (contains elements of "Diva" and "Supermodel")
- "Do It"
- "Too Much"
- "Video Sequence"
- "Where Did Our Love Go?" (Emma Bunton solo)
- "Dance Sequence"
- "Move Over"
- "The Lady Is a Vamp"
- "Say You'll Be There"
- "Video Sequence"
- "Naked" (contains excerpts from the film Batman Forever)
- "2 Become 1"
- "Walk of Life"
- "Video Sequence"
- "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" (Mel B & Melanie C duet)
- "Spice Up Your Life"
- "Viva Forever" (contains excerpts from the film Blade Runner)
- "Never Give Up on the Good Times"
- "We Are Family"
- "Who Do You Think You Are" contained a sound bite from the song "Diva" by Club 69 & "Supermodel (You Better Work)". In the beginning of the song the lyrics "You have to work to get this good" could be heard.
- "Naked" sampled two sound bits from the film Batman Forever. In the beginning of the song dialogue from the motion picture was included: "Relax. Tell me your dreams, tell me your fantasies, tell me your secrets, tell me your deepest, darkest, fears." In the middle 8 of the song, the Riddler's growls were heard.
- "Viva Forever" sampled a sound bite from the film Blade Runner. In the beginning of the song the famous words "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly" spoken by Dr. Eldon Tyrell are heard. This inspired a similar, revamped sound bite that was used during "Who Do You Think You Are" on the Return of the Spice Girls. This sound bite consisted of a deep, male, American-accented voice saying "The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you, my friend, have burned the brightest".
- The original "London town" lyric in "Walk of Life" was replaced by the name of the city the girls were performing in. The lyrics varied depending on the pronunciation of the city name, for example "Birmingham", "Antwerp Town", or "Boston City".
- During the European leg of the tour, "Move Over" featured some rather interesting lyrical changes. Instead of the usual "dedication, babynation etc...", the girls would alternate the lyrics with "penetration, menstruation, lubrication and masturbation" on various nights in the predominantly non-English speaking countries.
- Starting in Noblesville on July 24, "Step to Me" replaced "Do It", and "Walk of Life" was removed from the setlist. Both of these changes were due to several dancers' injuries, as well as the (unannounced at the time) pregnancies of Mel B and Victoria Beckham, who were picked up and carried around in various positions during "Walk of Life."
- After Geri Halliwell's departure, a pre-recorded backing track of Geri's vocals were used during the Spanish Rap in "If U Can't Dance" and the remaining girls sang her original "Ginger" lyric in "The Lady Is A Vamp".
- As presented on Sky Box Office Live, there was no 30 minute intermission during the "Back in Britain" leg of the tour, and additional songs were added to the setlist. "Something Kinda Funny" replaced "Denying", and "Step to Me" was dropped. "Do It" was added to the setlist, but was performed in Act 2 instead of its original spot in Act 1. "Something Kinda Funny", "Do It", and "Too Much" were retooled into their own act with a new set of outfits, replacing the restaurant act. "Love Thing" replaced "Move Over" as a one-song act, with a dancer intro and another new set of outfits.
- In 2007-08, a series of previously unseen videoscreen recordings from the European leg of the tour were leaked, including concerts in Madrid, Lyon, Paris and Arnhem. Complete footage of the tour with all 5 group members had been previously unseen.
- Mel B
- Emma Bunton
- Geri Halliwell - her last show before she left the group was on 26 May 1998 in Helsinki, Finland
- Victoria Adams
- Melanie C
- Simon Ellis – Musical Director / Keyboards
- Andy Gangadeen – Drums
- Paul Gendler – Guitars
- Fergus Gerrand – Percussion
- Steve Lewinson – Bass Guitar
- Michael Martin – Keyboards
- Louie Spence
- Takao Baba
- Carmine Canuso (aka Jake Canuso)
- Jimmy Gulzar
- Eszteca Noya
- Robert Nurse
- Christian Storm (until Halliwell's departure)
Management and additional personnel
- Tour manager: Richard Jones
- Assistant tour manager: Juliette Slater
- Production manager: Julian Lavender
- Show producer: Pete Barnes
- Stage manager (Europe): John Armstrong
- Stage manager (US): Jimmy Bolton
- Choreographer: Priscilla Samuels
- Costume designer: Kenny Ho
- Make up artist: Karin Darnell
- Booking agent (Europe): Primary Talent International
- Booking agent (US): William Morris Agency
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- Article reporting 2 hour sell-out of Irish gigs Archived 14 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Rolling Stone. 3 February 1998.
- "Spice Girls' Speedy Sell-out Prompts Ticket Probe". MTV News. 23 April 1998.
- Article reporting 12 minute sell-out of New York gig. Billboard Magazine. 22 April 1998.
- GINGER SPICE QUITS SPICE GIRLS. MTV News. 31 May 1998.
- Spice Girl hires lawyers over `split'. MTV News. 30 May 1998.
- Spice Girls Become a Foursome as Ginger Quits. The New York Times. 1 June 1998. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
- UK: GERI HALLIWELL TO LEAVE THE SPICE GIRLS UPDATE. AP News Archive. 31 May 1998.
- Girl Power coming to Wembley Archived March 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.. BBC News.
- "It's not the end of the Spiceworld". BBC News. 21 September 1998.
- Garcia, Gilbert. "Close Encounters: Spiceworld review". Phoenix New Times. 27 August 1998. Retrieved on 19 February 2017.
- "The Girls Are Alright". Chicago Reader. 6 August 1998.
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- "What, No Old Spice Commercials?". Los Angeles Times. 23 August 1998. Retrieved on 19 February 2017.
- "Spiceworld Tour Live In Birmingham FULL AUDIO WITH GERI! (Radio 1)". YouTube. 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- IMDB. Spice Girls: Live in Your Living Room (1998). Retrieved 11 November 2016.
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- "Spiceworld Tour". Spicepedia.
- "Spice Girls – Spiceworld Tour Live In Madrid". YouTube. 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
- "Spice Girls – Spiceworld Tour Live In Lyon". YouTube. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
- "Spice Girls – Spiceworld Tour Live In Paris". YouTube. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
- "Spice Girls – Spiceworld Tour Live In Arnhem". YouTube. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
- "FACTS". Spice Girls. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "Spice Girls Announce U.S. Tour Dates". MTV News. MTV Networks. 15 April 1998. Retrieved 10 October 2015.