The Pussycat Dolls appeared to be under the misapprehension they were playing the world-famous Wembley Stadium, not its shed-like neighbour, the Wembley Arena. How else could one explain their excitement at being here? “It’s great to be playing the legendary Wembley!” cried Carmit, the red-haired one. “Wow, it’s like a dream come true,” marvelled Jessica (black hair). The flattery was outrageous. The concert, sadly, was not.
Originally a burlesque troupe in LA, the quintet branched into music last year with the release of their hit album PCD, whose best tracks are slinky R&B-accented numbers on which they breathe absurd vampy sentiments such as: “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” It’s disposable, lightweight pop, but slick and entertaining too: imagine The Spice Girls after an American makeover.
Everything about them is carefully calculated – hairstyles, ethnic look, minuscule outfits – but little thought seems to have gone into their live show. The dance moves were energetic but unimaginative, their default routine being to jump around in formation on bent knees waggling their bottoms as if performing a saucy version of the haka. Nicole Scherzinger, their Hawaiian- Russian-Filipino leader, sang most of the vocals, though her strident singing voice belied her reputation as the “talented” one.
“Hot Stuff”, a Kylie-style disco track, and “Buttons”, a lascivious come-to-bed number that makes provocative use of a Middle Eastern riff, worked their catchy magic but otherwise their material was thin. It wasn’t helped by the muddy sound quality, which was mystifying bearing in mind the backing music was pre-recorded.
When they departed from their R&B-pop template, the results were painful. Whoever decided they should play a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” was clearly thinking out of the box, although the ensuing massacre wasn’t pretty to witness. This won’t go down in history as one of the “legendary” Wembley’s most memorable nights.
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