Black Eyed Peas / Cheryl Cole | Pop review

O2 Arena, London

Pity Cheryl Cole. Her private life is bumpy, and now she is stuck opening for the Black Eyed Peas. That isn't flippant: the Peas' live show is a hits-and-special-effects blockbuster, and would eclipse any support act. For Cole, accustomed to being a cog in the Girls Aloud wheel rather than doing a solo turn, the contrast is even crueller.

Surrounded by dancers and swathed in white, she looked small and out of her depth. Her best songs, Fight for this Love and Parachute, were rattled off without passion; on 3 Words, a photo of the Peas' (who sang on the record) got more applause than she did. Yet her shout-out to "all you strong ladies in the house" was supportively returned by ladies both strong and weak.

The pertinent difference between Cole and the Black Eyed Peas - apart from the latter's production budget, which paid for, among other things, a space-age motorbike and spinning record-deck – is that the Peas are effortless live performers. Putting four such raving extroverts on the same stage should have resulted in nuclear fission; instead, they worked with and around each other like the street band they were before their osmosis into family-friendly hip-poppers.

Fergie, the big voice (who can also spin a microphone like a baton), belted, while, irrepressible second banana Apl De Ap and lantern-jawed hunk Taboo threaded booming rhymes between her verses, body-popping all the while., for good measure, turned fans' live tweets into an improvised rap.

Every sugar-soaked hit, from Where Is the Love to I Gotta Feeling – the most downloaded track in iTunes history – was revisited, like a prolonged trip to a sweet shop. Glorious stuff. If hadn't wasted the final 10 minutes thanking members of their crew by name, it would have been 2010's best pop show so far.

At the LG Arena, Birmingham (0844 338 8000), tomorrow. Then touring.

• This article was amended on 7 May 2010. The original stated that Apl turned fans' live tweets into an improvised rap. This has been corrected.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Black Eyed Peas/Cheryl Cole | Pop review
The Black Eyed Peas are the biggest pop band in the world, but when it comes to superstars, there's only one Cheryl Cole, says Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

08, May, 2010 @11:06 PM

Article image
Cheryl Cole and 'fine' after LA car crash
Rapper-producer hit a parked car with his Cadillac while Cole was in the passenger seat, but neither suffered serious injuries

Guardian Music

30, Aug, 2012 @9:29 AM

Article image
Cheryl Cole: A Million Lights – review
Alexis Petridis: While other Girls Aloud solo careers flounder, it seems Cheryl Cole can't lose – even with this pretty middling album

Alexis Petridis

14, Jun, 2012 @2:29 PM

Cheryl Cole – review
A mere 80 minutes of the former Girl Aloud was enough to show that she struggles to carry an arena show, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

08, Oct, 2012 @11:21 AM

Article image
Black Eyed Peas review – pop air-punchers revisit conscious hip-hop roots
Led by and with surprise guest Nicole Scherzinger, a more subdued Peas swap visual dazzlement for 90s-inspired beats

Caroline Sullivan

28, Oct, 2018 @1:18 PM

Article image
George Clinton sues Black Eyed Peas for copyright infringement
Parliament-Funkadelic leader claims his signature was forged to clear a sample for two remix tracks

Sean Michaels

14, Dec, 2010 @10:19 AM

Straight outta Compton, it's... Cheryl Cole?

The Girls Aloud singer is on her way to LA to learn how to krump. Meanwhile, it turns out Fiddy's song Candy Shop was literally about his love of candy, and the White Stripes cancel their US tour.

Rosie Swash

13, Sep, 2007 @11:34 AM

Black Eyed Peas, Jazz Cafe, London

Jazz Cafe, London

Betty Clarke

26, Sep, 2003 @1:51 AM

Article image
Black Eyed Peas, Brixton Academy, London

Brixton Academy, London

Caroline Sullivan

09, May, 2005 @12:23 PM

The guidelines: Black Eyed Peas

Seven things we can thank Fergie for getting started, uh huh

24, Apr, 2009 @11:01 PM