Girls Aloud The O2 Dublin Odyssey Arena BelfastWe seem to have gotten used to the idea of ‘reunions’ now. The cash-ins and fake smiles, the backstage bloodbaths, the aching dead-eyed misery etched into familiar faces as they canter once more round the circuit begging to be adored, desperately trying to invoke that sliver of genius that used to be summoned so effortlessly. ITV2’s ‘Big Reunion’ has taught us many things, not just about how tiresome those bloody Lynch twins are or how Abz led the life of a sex monkey but that being a pop star generally turns you into a back-flipping, perma tanned Richey Edwards and the only thing that can coax you back into that hollow-faced state is the thoughts of getting a nice conservatory or a family holiday. Pop music turned game show winner.

This couldn’t be the same for our girls could it? With whispers about poor ticket sales, the disinterested face of an onstage Kimberly stretched across the tabloids and the bizarre indifference to the ‘Ten’ tour that seemed to drip from every online forum, was the show going to be an awkward, apologetic run through of the hits in robotic form? Was Kimbers going to yawn herself into oblivion? Had the dream really died?

Thankfully as the ladies made their subtle entrance standing astride a ridiculous twinkling Girls Aloud sign to the sting of ‘Sound of the Underground’ they became those five super-heroes again, bouffanted to insanity, power-lashed to the max, ready to set fire to Saturday night and grind the naysayers into dust. This was their mission statement crammed into one incendiary night, as they bounded through the dark brilliance of ‘No Good Advice’, it was apparent that this was all about the serious business of pop not some embarrassing, half-boiled karaoke. With a breathtaking array of Xenomania delights to choose from, it was like an unending tin of Christmas Roses, each better than the last.

Rattling through the wailsome ‘Life Got Cold’ and the turbo-aggression of ‘Wake Me Up’ they gave the solid-gold stunner ‘The Show’ the respect it deserves, turning the stage into an electric, pop moment with a Madonnaesque runway filled with feathers and sequence as Nicola went native in an astonishing full length headdress and fulfilling Chezza’s dream of being a Victoria Secret model as she slinked down the walkway to the siren call of Sarah’s breakdown in the coveted cherub wings, she was a real live Angel of the North in the flesh. From then on it was a relentless series of hits ‘Love Machine’ begat the tongue twisting ‘Biology’ and the formerly disposable treat ‘Sexy! No No No’ surprisingly became a full-blooded, sharp, electro stormer, as the girls took to the sky riding their sign across our heads powered only by their own terrifying fierceness and their enormous hair.

Yes, there were moments of predictable pop-show cliché, Sarah declaring her ‘Irishness’ or Nadine just being Nadine and then there was Cheryl. Apparently no-one could get enough of the Chezza, letting out eardrum shattering screams whenever her little face emitted even the smallest of a dimple on the jumbo screen, although that face was mostly shielded by her utterly bizarre melted Diana Ross barnet, it mattered not. Chezza was indeed the people’s princess and seemed more at home in the safety of her bandmates then nervous and alone in a half full arena when these very same screamers decided against going to her solo show… but above all this pop pomp and cheap thrills was the overwhelming feeling that this was a true celebration, our thank you and acknowledgement that they would always be the smartest pop band in the room, the ones that managed to worm their way into the pages of the music press and the hearts of indie boys like Arctic Monkeys and serious music gods like the Pet Shop Boys alike. They would always be that scrappy fivesome we recognised, the on-the-bus, check-out girls living for Saturday nights that got lucky and transformed before our very eyes to be the glitter encrusted pop machine of today.

As they waved us goodbye shimmering in their sequined dresses the chorus of ‘The Promise’ rang out over the 02 and a stream of feathers burst over the crowd from above, it was the finale of the greatest pop film never made and one that really does deserve a sequel not just a reunion.