Spices back together! It must be the biggest reunification since the Berlin wall came down (shame no one could get Posh interested)
12:28 GMT, 27 June 2012
Their last attempt at a reunion ended in tears and an abandoned world tour. But four years on, the Spice Girls came together again yesterday to launch their musical, Viva Forever.
With a selection of husbands, babies and solo projects to their names, they had certainly come a long way since they gathered in the same London hotel to film their first video in 1996.
However, it seemed some things hadn’t changed – with Victoria Beckham sticking with her trademark pout and failing to link arms with her former bandmates as they posed for a photograph.
admitted their friendship had been tested over the past 16 years, but
Geri Halliwell said it felt ‘very natural’ to be back together.
it seems a new generation of baby Spices are to thank for making it
happen. She added: ‘We have children now and that is something else that
can unite us.’
Together again: But while Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, and Emma Bunton all gathered in close for a picture at the Viva Forever launch, Victoria Beckham kept her distance
Grand entrance: Writer Jennifer Saunders, third right, and Judy Craymer, third left, joined the Spice Girls at the Viva Forever launch at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London
Wannabees: The Spice Girls filmed their first ever music video at the same hotel in 1996
Yes, these are the stairs, the actual stairs, the legendary stairs, the blessed and utterly holy stairs that the Spice Girls first skipped across in 1996.
Back then, on this ‘iconic staircase that launched the phenomenon of raw talent on the world’ as a breathless Spice representative puts it, the group filmed the video for their first hit, Wannabe.
The feverish conclusion we are supposed to reach is that pop history was made, right here in the lobby of this London hotel.
Sixteen years on and we have all returned to worship at the shrine of the stairs, to see the Spices reunite on these now richly-carpeted pop stairs as they launch Viva Forever, the new musical based on their hit songs.
Sixteen years on: Spice Girls
Mel B, Mel C, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham on the stairs at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
Q&A: The Spice Girls answered questions from the press after the running of the Viva Forever Show Reel
Cheeky: The Spice Girls appeared to have the same cheeky banter they shared when they first got together as Mel C squeezes Mel B's bum
No wonder the achingly stylish Posh looks miffed. No wonder her face is frozen into a death mask of misery only one degree above her usual grim froideur.
The poor woman had to leave her lovely life in California and fly across an ocean just to pose next to a hideously swirly, tufted and loopy shagpile. But still, come on. That’s no way to talk about the rest of the girls.
After the rigours of the staircase photocall, the group stand shoulder to shoulder on a stage in the hotel’s function room, smiling like warring Mafia wives putting on a united front at a family funeral.
The hundreds of journalists packed into the room are not allowed to ask questions, only to listen as the Spices paper over the cracks.
‘She’s nice, she’s nice, she’s nice, she’s nice. I’m lucky to know these girls,’ says Geri Haliwell, indicating her former bandmates.
Still a star: Victoria Beckham signed autographs as she left the Viva Forever launch to catch a flight straight back to her home in California
Going their separate ways: The Spice Girls left the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London separately
‘You’re just saying that ’cos you left,’ says Mel B. ‘But I came back… what does that say That they’re forgiving!’ cries Geri.
Or perhaps that they need the money
Still, the very fact that the Spices are together again in public must be the biggest diplomatic triumph since the reunification of Germany.
Ironically, the group who once sang that ‘friendship never ends’ only managed a scant few years together before falling out and splitting up, then later abandoning a reunion tour half way through.
Various Spice factions are reportedly
still on non-speaks, and the wounds are easy to see beneath the public
sticking plaster of affable bonhomie.
Early days: Each member of the group, pictured in 1996, was given their own nickname – from left to right – 'Sporty' Mel C, 'Ginger' Geri Halliwell, 'Baby' Emma Bunton, 'Scary' Mel B and 'Posh' Victoria Beckham
Who Do You Think You Are: The Spice Girls giving one of their most memorable performances at the 1997 Brit Awards
‘You got anything else you wanna say, Geri’ says Mel B at one point. I suspect this might be girl power-speak for ‘Shut up, Ginge.’
Ask yourself this. What on earth could have brought them together to make nice in front of the world’s media Lovely lolly, of course. And lots of it.
Once the best-selling girl group in the world, not all of them have gone on to post-Spice success.
However, all five of them now stand to make millions from Viva Forever, which is scripted by Spice-fan Jennifer Saunders in collaboration with Mamma Mia producer Judy Craymer.
‘I like the songs even better now,’ says a jolly Saunders, tanned and glam at the launch. Well, I’ll bet she does.
The Spice Girls are women now, mothers with eleven children and three husbands (past and present) between them. Yet some things never change.
Together again: The Spice Girls briefly reunited for a world tour in 2007
The girls performing in Vancouver, Canada, in 2007, on the first night of The Return of Spice Girls World Tour which was cut short 'due to family and personal commitments'
High flyers: The Spice Girls after naming a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 plane 'Spice One' in their honor at Los Angeles International Airport in December 2007
Geri the desperado has lost none of her spotlight-hogging, fame-hungry lunacy. Baby is still as sweet as a cupcake.
Victoria remains aloof although to be honest, her cool is somewhat dented by the fact that she is a distinctly odd, teabag colour. She was the last to arrive and the first to leave, putting some clear blue water between herself and her less successful former colleagues.
At all times, her manner is that of a crime boss who has gone legit; a former Fagin-ette who is a bit embarrassed when her old gang of thumb-twitching pickpockets turn up. Still, wearing her own designs, she’s the best dressed by a mile.
Ginger is now blonde, Sporty has replaced her tracksuits with cream chiffon, Baby is now 36 but Scary is still utterly Scary.
She wears shoes with metal studs, her hair is scraped back into a forbidding bun, her Lanvin dress is unforgiving, her raspy voice still gurgles with the gutsy gravy of her hometown of Leeds. ‘Geri,’ she had moaned at a backstage conference earlier. ‘Not everyone wants to listen to what you have to say all the time.’
Comedian Jennifer Saunders, pictured as Edina in Absolutely Fabulous next to former 'Baby Spice' Emma Bunton and Joanna Lumley as Patsy, wrote
the script for the musical Viva Forever!
The joke is that Spices won’t actually be starring in Viva Forever, even with top tickets priced at 85.
For that money, fans might be forgiven for expecting Baby to personally serve the interval ice creams.
The plot is about mums, friendship and talent show contests – which sounds like a pale dilution of the sensational tribulations of the real Spice Girls story. Still, everyone is jolly excited about the project.
‘I am really excited,’ said Posh, looking about as thrilled as a corpse. ‘The Spice Girls is a journey that so many people went on together.’
Geri ‘can’t believe’ it is happening, Sporty is ‘blown away’, Baby says that ‘this is mainly for our fans’ and it was up to Scary to tell the blunt truth. ‘The cast sing the songs better than us,’ she said.
Spot on. For I tell you what I want, what I really, really want. A little bit of perspective. At this Spice Girls press conference, musical history has been rewritten in a stroke of Jennifer Saunders’s pen.
The catchy Spice Girl hits, delivered with verve and style by a bunch of pig-tailed larrikins, have somehow been transmogrified into some of the greatest pop songs ever written. And we all know that is just not true.