It's been about a year since the last David Vertesi-helmed tribute night, but the wait was worth it. While past nights centred around one musician (Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon) and featured a revolving door of lead singers, this one was a little... different. It still featured ten local musicians, but instead of all filling the shoes of one legendary musician, they each had their own role to play as the night pitted two 90s pop icons against each other; Spice Girls vs Backstreet Boys.
On the Boys side, they had Omar Khan as AJ, Tom Van Deursen (The Boom Booms) as Nick, JP Maurice as Brian, Benedict Marsh as Howie, and the man himself, David Vertesi (Hey Ocean) as Kevin. And for the Girls, there was Ashleigh Ball (Hey Ocean) as Baby Spice, Tonye Aganaba as Scary Spice, Kaylee Johnston as Ginger Spice, Narai Dawn (Star Captains) as Sporty Spice, and Louise Burns as Posh Spice. Each musician not only dressed the part (and put on a fake accent if necessary), but they also learned some sweet dance moves. Or, in some cases, probably still knew them all these years later. They were backed by brothers Mike and Dave Young on bass and keys, respectively, Tristan Paxton on guitar, Raphael Geronimo on percussion, and the inimitable Johnny Andrews on drums.
As with the other tribute events, I'll just run down some highlights before a bevy of pictures from Christine. They started off with BSB's "Larger Than Life" to shrieks and cheers that hardly subsided throughout the night, and included slow jams like "I'll never Break Your Heart", and choreographed dancing to "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)".
Certainly not to be outdone, the Spice Girls had the dance for "Stop" down, got the mood sexy for "2 Become 1", and had the entire room singing along to "Wannabe" to close out the main portion of the night.
Finally, at the very end, whence the battle culminated, there was a cheer-off for the winners. It was close between Girls and Boys, but once Vertesi added in the option of the backing band, the five musicians who played throughout the whole thing, they handily won the night. All that was left was for everyone to gather around the microphones, and send the crowd off to a big group "As Long As You Love Me".
Even for people who were... maybe not a huge fan of either band in their heyday (I mean, I liked them, and appreciated them for what they did, but was certainly not a big fan) the enthusiasm from the musicians on stage for channelling their inner boy band or girl power was infectious, and made for a very, very fun night. I just hope Vertesi is able to continue on with these Tribute Nights, but I'm not sure how they'll be able to top this one.
photos by Christine McAvoy - click here to see full album on Facebook!
Set #1 (BSB)
Larger Than Life
Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
All I Have To Give
We've Got It Goin' On
I'll Never Break Your Heart
Set #3 (BSB)
Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
Get Down (You're The One For Me)
Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely
Shape of my Heart
I Want It That Way
As Long As You Love Me
Set #2 (SG)
Spice Up Your Life
Who Do You Think You Are
Set #4 (SG)
Say You'll Be There
2 Become 1
Never Give Up On The Good Times