Melanie C

MARK NICHOLLS The re-invented Melanie C came to Norwich with a new look and a fresh army of fans to greet her.

MARK NICHOLLS

The re-invented Melanie C came to Norwich last night with a new look and a fresh army of fans to greet her.

Out have gone the screaming Spice Girl fans and in was a new generation of admirers of all ages. Also abandoned was the chubby blonde starlet persona and instead we saw the confidence and sleek darkness of Melanie C 2003.

The diversity of the audience was a tribute to her music, understandably receiving broader critical acclaim than that of other ex-Spice Girls.

Melanie C took Norwich by storm with a marvellous show to a sell-out audience at the University of East Anglia.

Much of the material was predictably drawn from her second and latest album Reason.

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She burst on to the stage in a blaze of dazzling light and opened her set with Yeh Yeh Yeh followed rapidly by Let's Love and the recent single Here It Comes Again.

Melanie C clearly enjoyed herself, free of the demons that have troubled her in the recent past and all the burdens that went with being a former Spice Girl.

For the current tour she has assembled a stunning new band which has been with her throughout the new album.

But it was material from her massive debut album Northern Star that succeeded with an audience spread over the age and gender.

After the demise of the Spice Girls, Melanie C was the band member to emerge as the one most likely to succeed musically as a solo artist, despite the image icons of Posh Spice and Geri Halliwell.

And it was Northern Star that contributed most to that.

Having said that, the hits she shared with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and the late Lisa Left-Eye Lopez – notably Never Be The Same Again – were warmly received.

But other tracks, such as Suddenly Monday went down well too.

This was a more rounded performance by Melanie C than the last time she was at the UEA, appearing now with the freedom of two strong albums to draw live material from.

Despite this the set was disappointingly short – a mere one hour – before encores of Reason, which she dedicated to the audience in Norwich, followed by the superb finale of I Turn To You.

Melanie C has banished the Spice Girls to the past and confirmed herself as a true solo star. Melanie C, rock chick, welcome back.