Where do you start when something was so outrageously incredible and meant so much to you especially after the initial heart-breaking disappointment of July’s cancellation? I’m finding it impossible to put into words how amazing The Hit Factory Live was, I’m not here to critique individual performances as you are always going to enjoy some more than others and opinions will always differ when so many amazing acts are involved but I think it’s fair to say that from the fist thumping opening act 2 Unlimited you knew you were in for one hell of a 3 ½ hour ride through the recess of your mind, a surreal evening filled with memories, nostalgia and FUN. A night of two halves with a small 10 minute interval breaking up the overwhelming spectacle that was happening on stage.
The enormous crowd (it was a sell-out) were up on their feet for the entire show, singing, dancing and generally having a ball, making new friends as well as celebrating with old ones. With each act came anticipation; would they do their own songs justice? Will they be as good as they were back in the day? The answer is a resounding YES, they delivered each song with gusto, passion and an excitement that was akin to the audiences. From the wonderful Lonnie Gordon, to the comperes Pat and Mick who quite frankly made my night by singing a medley of their top charity hits (put it this way I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet…), you also had great performances from Sonia and Sinitta (they haven’t aged a bit) with Sintta’s backing dancers getting everyone a bit hot under the collar *swoon* as well as the captivating Nathan Moore from Brother Beyond and the amazing Hazell Dean, boy can she belt out a tune or two, incredible! We also saw in the first half the fantastic Pepsi and Shirlie as well as Princess who we can safely say is still a lot of people’s number one! Pete Waterman made an appearance now and then as did Gaby Roslin who hosted the poptastic event along with Pat Sharp and Mick Brown. Towards the end of the first act Pete sincerely introduced his newest act James Graham who led the tribute to the late Donna Summer with a phenomenal rendition of ‘Love’s About To Change My Heart’, he reminded me of a young Rick Astley and to think this kid is only 16 years old blows my mind, what a voice, I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of him in the future! The first act ended with the pop spectacular from the one and only Pete Burns (Dead or Alive) who took us to the dark side with his gothic enactment, a megamix of his hits ending with You Spin Me Round, it was sheer brilliance.
Sinitta Performing Toy Boy
Pete Burns (Dead or Alive)
During the interval it was a chance for my brain to start digesting what we had already seen and to be honest I cannot express the feeling of my overpowering emotions, it felt surreal and dreamlike but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be feeling that way. We were treated to tracks from the pop icons Mel & Kim, Divine and Donna Summer a nice touch to know that they might not have been there in person but they certainly weren’t forgotten.
It was time for the second half and with the crowd reaching a fever pitch this half was about to push the temperature through the roof, with the incredible and funny Rick Astley (who has matured like a fine wine) on first giving us one hell of a treat with his knock out tunes along with the crowd showing him that they were certainly Never Gonna Give Him Up, then you had Bananarama (minus Siobhan) whose five hit medley went down a storm, these girls have definitely still got it and next was the man, the legend himself Mr Jason Donovan, the audience was deafening and let’s face it we all knew what was coming soon: The DUET! But before Kylie joined him on stage STEPS were up next and I think you could see that they were surprised by the reaction they received which was just amazing, there were more than a few STEPS dance moves being thrown and I have to say they were just exceptional; fun, polished and professional.
OK so STEPS had left the stage and the atmosphere in the O2 is one that even thinking about now gives me goosebumps, you could feel the excitement and expectation of the upcoming act, the eagerness of the audience was apparent and maybe there were nerves that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. Well let me tell you, I maybe bias (I was wearing a Kylie and Jason T-shirt after all) but THE duet of all duets was mind blowing, yes I cried, I’m not ashamed to admit it by that point my emotions had hit a crescendo, it was worth waiting all these years for and when they did the SPIN, yes just like in the original video the crowd went literally bonkers! The lyrics to Especially For You must have rung around London during the performance, everyone was lost in the moment, a childhood dream, a surreal event that you never thought you would see, it was really happening and there are no words that can describe what it did to me as a fan and seeing Kylie jump up and down with excitement afterwards shows that the artists that night felt just as much as us watching. It still brings a lump to my throat and combined with the overall evening it was just an absolute honour to have been there. The show ended with STEPS rendition of Merry Christmas Everybody with all acts appearing on stage as fake snow fell, alongside the three giant Christmas trees that had lit up the stage all night, this was unquestionably one hell of a Christmas Cracker.
Overall this is one concert that I will forever hold dear, it was a roadshow for us lifelong fans whose passion and love for the music has never died, yes some people may not get it but I do and for that I am truly grateful. Thanks Mr Pete Waterman for answering many a Christmas Wish and the utmost respect also to Matt Stock and Mike Aitken who are the ones responsible for giving us the undeniable sound of SAW.
Verdict: The Hit Factory Live literally blew the roof off the O2.
Medley: Get Ready For This / Twilight Zone / Tribal Dance
Happenin’ All Over Again
PAT & MICK
Megamix: Let's All Chant / Use It Up And Wear It Out / I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet
Who’s Leaving Who?
Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)
The Harder I Try
Megamix: Can’t Forget You / Counting Every Minute / Listen To Your Heart
You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You
PEPSI & SHIRLIE
Megamix: Cross My Broken Heart / Right Back Where We Started From
Love’s About To Change My Heart
I’ll Always Be There
After The Love Has Gone
Say I’m Your Number One
DEAD OR ALIVE
Megamix: My Heart Goes Bang / Lover Come Back (To Me) / Brand New Lover / Something In My House
You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind [Remix]
Mel & Kim - Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)
Edwin Starr - Whatever Makes Our Love Grow
Mel & Kim - That's The Way It Is
Donna Summer - This Time I Know It's For Real
Donna Summer - I Don't Wanna Get Hurt
Laura Branigan - Shattered Glass
Mel & Kim - F.L.M.
Mel & Kim - Respectable
Divine - I'm So Beautiful
Sandra - Everlasting Love [Remix]
She Wants To Dance With Me
When I Fall In Love
Whenever You Need Somebody
Never Gonna Give You Up
I Heard A Rumour
I Want You Back
Love In The First Degree
When You Come Back To Me
Every Day (I Love You More)
Nothing Can Divide Us
Too Many Broken Hearts
Deeper Shade Of Blue
Last Thing On My Mind
One For Sorrow
KYLIE & JASON
Especially For You
STEPS & ENSEMBLE
Merry Christmas Everybody
All Images © of Julian Clift.