Jack Cullen

Melanie C @ Heaven

Been there, seen that, took the picture.

Exactly fifteen years after she first appeared at Heaven as one fifth of The Spice Girls, Melanie Chisholm is back to promote her latest single Think About It. It’s her third PA at Britain’s most famous gay club and she looks quite the lady in an imposing black dress with lacey Middleton-esque sleeves and on the feet that once sported foam platform Reeboks - a pair of empowering gold zip-up heels. At once ladylike and hard-edged, her tattoos are kept at bay tonight by the chic attire and upstaged by some serious shine on her legs.

“It’s funny how times change” she says, instantly making the stage her own after one of Jeremy Joseph’s routinely odd introductions. “Each time I come back here there are more and more camera phones!” She says this with a disheartened laugh, exhausted almost, looking out across a sea of gay arms all pointing said devices at her, boys who were messing their nappies in high chairs when The Spice Girls first appeared.

”Hello World Wide Web!” she giggles, and I find myself feeling a bit embarrassed, not for Mel, but on behalf of the crowd. Why can’t we just enjoy a show with our eyes and ears? Does anyone really need their own tacky home recording of Mel C? There are professional photographers in the wings for fuck's sake! Heaven - the perfect setting for gigs that fuse live entertainment with the sexual energy of night clubbing - spoilt by a generation of pokey brainwashed technophiles who are obsessed with photographing everything around them to the extent they’re totally absent from the spectacle that they’re haphazardly documenting.

“So. Who’s watching X Factor?” Mel asks two thousand iPhones, and to me it comes across as a sick joke. Who watches X Factor? Does she know that this very nightclub drip feeds us fame-starved former X Factor contestants every other Saturday with all the stifled variety of a Nespresso machine? “I have a total girl crush on Kelly Rowland, she’s so beautiful!” she says, throwing a damp bone to the Tweeters in the crowd, and then without further ado we’re off – wading together into that murky rock pool that is Mel C’s angst and confusingly indecisive discography.

She sings acoustic numbers first, including ‘Burn’ and ‘Never Be The Same Again’. For the latter Mel encourages the crowd to sing the part of the late Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes who featured in the original. It’s alright but it’s a bit of a downer for 2am on a Saturday night. Then she disappears to change into something a bit gayer in order to bash out her new single Think About It, before ending on her biggest hit I Turn To You. I did enjoy the Mel C video montage that we were treated to during her costume change, a sort of pop propaganda medley that drew heavily on shots from I Want Candy, and I liked how Heaven played her music videos WHILE SHE SANG – as if to testify to the youngest club-goers that Yes, Mel C was once an actual pop star.

It seems the gay community would rather cherish her as a cheesy 90s relic than a recording artist in her own right. Heaven played the Spice Girls movie on their big screens throughout the club all night, and only seconds after she left the stage a Wannabe remix boomed out across the main dance floor.

Mel C is so much cooler than the mainstream media will let her be, she can really sing and she is certainly the most credible solo artist, if not the only, to have emerged from The Spice Girls with her own songbook. But as she ruffles the side of her long glossy hair and receives a giant bouquet of flowers from Jeremy Joseph it's clear that no matter how distinctive Mel’s solo voice is she will always be Sporty Spice to this crowd, and that's a shame.

Pre-order her single over here.

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