sun 21/04/2019

JLS, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

JLS, O2 Arena

JLS, O2 Arena

The likeable pop foursome go for broke in an extravagant live show

JLS: the triumph of everyone's favourite underdogs

The X Factor has made it far easier for fans to connect with artists from the get-go - as far as the viewer is concerned, the life story of each auditionee starts at episode one. Following JLS from that first audition to a third sold-out arena tour in the space of just four years has instilled a sense of pride in even the youngest of fans. 

Unusually for the television talent contest, JLS arrived pre-formed - they stood before Simon, Cheryl, Dannii and Louis with matching outfits unprompted, four savvy members seemingly set on becoming the next Boyz II Men. In spite of their strengths, however, they eventually lost out to 2008 winner Alexandra Burke. It was arguably a blessing: defeat allowed them to escape the reins of their mentor and perennial dullard Louis Walsh, gain a new record label and become everyone’s new favourite underdogs. 

One minute they were moving across the arena on a giant triangular structure, the next they were doing somersaults suspended on string

Two BRITs and five number-one singles later, JLS are no longer the contest’s nearly-boys, but instead one of its biggest success stories. Once the aftershock of The X Factor died down, the niche they’d carved out for themselves remained viable. It’s an odd niche, turning everything into a club banger, but there’s something chemical about the strength of their beat and its impact. They have used the most preposterous samples - “The Sound of Music” on “The Club Is Alive”, and a Bing Crosby Christmas classic on “Do You Feel What I Feel?” - and still come out on top. It may be contrived, but it’s a refreshing attitude none the less.

Live, last night JLS opted against session musicians in favour of fireworks, dancers, strobes, flames and extravagant projections. And in spite of the lack of drum fills or guitar solos, their showiness prevented it sounding anything like karaoke. It may be One Direction who are riding high in the US charts, but their lack of experience means they also lack JLS’s stunts, impeccable timing and endless desire for japes. 

The deafening squeals emanating from the O2 Arena left a long-lasting impression. While there’s little humility in the JLS experience, the spectacle of their live show was easy to fall for. Segmented into a futuristic, surrealist four-part search for infinity, the budget was blown in the most fun manner possible. One minute the foursome were moving across the arena on a giant triangular structure, the next they were doing somersaults mid-air suspended on string. Countless costume changes took in red PVC, chiffon shawls, white sleeveless suits, leather fringing and mirrored capes. 

Set highlight “Beat Again” faded out into a light sabre battle resembling Men in Black, while on the glitchy gloss of “So Many Girls” the quartet finally broke into their breathtaking close harmonies. There are still hurdles for JLS to negotiate - removing their clumsy, dumb-funny wordplay; making the most of their voices combined - but to focus on the negatives would be to overlook just how polished an act they’ve become since emerging in 2008. And if rumours of a return to new jack swing on their fourth album are to be believed, a second stab at cracking the USA may well prove fruitful.

Segmented into a futuristic, surrealist four-part search for infinity, the budget was blown in the most fun manner possible

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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