Music with a message: Review of Little Mix LM5 tour at Utilita Arena, Newcastle

They may not have been the girl band who coined the phrase ‘girl power’ but Little Mix were certainly flying the flag for female empowerment as they brought their LM5 tour to Newcastle’s Utilita Arena.
Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.
Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.

It’s two years since the four-piece last played the arena stage and although the infectiously sing-a-long hits that are their trademark are still there, they’ve also ramped up the message that goes with their music.

Who’s got the power? Little Mix it seems as they emerged from the rafters to a sea of flashing bunny ears on their first of three nights in Newcastle. Clad in red and black, they set the tone with stomping pop song Salute with images of the Suffragettes and slogans of sisterhood and empowerment flashing up on the screen – as well as later shots of trolling tweets and clips from Marmite broadcaster and journalist Piers Morgan.

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Eight years since the band won X Factor, they’re well versed in performing live and it was a polished show of lasers, glitter cannons, stylish graphics, costume changes aplenty and energetic backing dancers, as well as the strong vocals which typify the band.

They’re racked up plenty of hits over the years and they come thick and fast on this tour with Power, Woman Like Me, Wings, Shout Out To My Ex, Reggaeton Lento Remix and No More Sad Songs all getting an outing from their extensive back catalogue.

New tracks from the fifth studio album LM5 including Bounce Back and Wasabi, a cult hit which has spawned a raft of Japanese-inspired merchandise (a whopping £50 for a hoodie in case you were wondering), whipped the already excited crowd up even more.

Local lasses Perrie and Jade from South Shields were always going to get some of the biggest screams – “It feels amazing to be home” said Jade with genuine warmth.

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But the decibels were raised even higher for Jesy after her recent BBC documentary in which she laid bare her struggles with trolling and self image.

Little Mix on stage in NewcastleLittle Mix on stage in Newcastle
Little Mix on stage in Newcastle

It’s not often the words of American feminist and social political activist Gloria Steinem flash up on the screen of a British pop gig, but it was refreshing to see a pop band as intent on informing as they were entertaining. It’s not something they have to do so vehemently: I’m sure they’d sell plenty of records without the feminist tropes.

Sticking with the inclusivity, a rainbow of lights lit a floating stage as the band glided over the crowd to sing Secret Love Song which was dedicated to their LGBTQ fans.

I’m not sure how much the deeper messages resonated with the younger fans just yet, but you’ve got to salute Little Mix for putting the F word in pop.

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*Little Mix also play Utilita Arena on October 25 and 26. There’s limited availability of tickets here.

*This week it was announced that Jade has bought a pub in her home town of South Shields. Read all about it here.