When Little Mix’s mega-tour finishes in May, the UK will be without a major girl group for the first time in decades. After winning the X Factor in 2011, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards have carried the torch for campy girl power, and in Newcastle, the trio show why their “extended hiatus” feels so bittersweet.
Draped in neon feathers, Little Mix are suspended from the ceiling as they blast through the ultimate kiss-off anthem, Shout Out to My Ex. Confetti cannons explode and the sold-out arena crowd are going word-for-word on the track’s gleeful cutdowns. This is a show for the back rows: maximalist, assertive and heavily rhinestoned.
For two breathless hours Little Mix give a lesson on the last 10 years of British pop. Bubblegum dance track Move is rightly introduced as “a bit of a classic”, while other major hits are given a refresh: reggae-pop track Woman Like Me explodes into a rock’n’roll dance break with full pyro and intensive hairography, and spiky Salute twists into Lil Nas X’s hit Industry Baby.
When the feathers settle, there’s much to discuss. “So much has happened since we were last here,” Edwards says. “We’re mummies now!” she beams, gesturing to herself and Pinnock. “And … ” Her pause hangs in the air and for a second it seems as if she’s going to address the absence of Jesy Nelson, who left the group in 2020. “Jade’s a dog mummy!” she says. “I miss those little bitches,” quips Thirlwall.
It’s clear that Little Mix are joyfully taking control of their legacy. The set hinges on a transition from Between Us, a tribute to their endurance, and Love (Sweet Love), another new single that declares total independence: “I’m gonna give it to me”. Two of the three members have already announced solo careers.
But their emphatic promise that Little Mix is forever (“2011 – always”) is teary and heartfelt. The 2020 single Sweet Melody, the night’s closer, feels more a triumphant beginning than an ending, and Newcastle’s bars are blaring it out as the crowd find their way home. When Little Mix return, there’s going to be a party.