JLS at Manchester AO Arena, 02/11/23

Tonight, the renowned pop sensation and multiple award-winning group, JLS, entertain a massive audience at AO Arena as part of their “Everybody Say JLS: The Hits” tour. Originating in 2006, the band embarked on their journey by auditioning for the X-Factor in 2008, securing a second-place finish behind Alexandra Burke. Following their stint on the competition, they went on to release two chart-topping singles, namely “Beat Again” and “Everybody in Love.” A decade after their 2013 hiatus, the band made a comeback in 2020 and subsequently treated the UK to their “Beat Again” tour in 2021 and have recently celebrated the 14th anniversary of their hit song, “Everybody in Love.”

The performance commences as the lights dim, setting the stage for an animated sequence on the screen. This animation features Aston taking the spotlight, followed by seamless transitions to showcase each band member individually before culminating in a captivating group portrait of the entire band. The band members make their entrance onto the stage, each occupying their distinct boxes, and the music kicks off with ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’ The performance includes a meticulously choreographed dance routine, with screens displaying the band members in the midst of a rain shower, all highlighted in shades of pink and even features a screen cameo from Tinie Tempah.

Aston, JB, Oritsé and Marvin are all dressed in impeccably coordinated black and white attire, presenting a unified and stylish appearance throughout the show with many tracks featuring fireworks that light up the arena and the screens smoothly transition from displaying pre-recorded videos and live footage through to hypnotic soundwaves.

From the inception of the band, each member was associated with a specific colour—red, green, blue, and yellow. This colour scheme remains a consistent and defining element throughout their show. Whether it’s through the dynamic use of lighting or screen visuals, these colours serve as a motif that ties the entire performance together. Fans who attend the show often embrace this tradition by wearing clothing that aligns with their favourite band member, creating a vibrant and immersive experience that connects both the band and their dedicated supporters in a colourful celebration of their music.

Throughout the performance, each of the four band members takes the time to engage with the enthusiastic audience during breaks between tracks. Their interactions serve to strengthen the bond between the band and the crowd and when the band announce that two fortunate audience members will have the incredible opportunity to join them on stage, the crowd are practically feral. After much excitement four lucky fans are plucked from the audience to join them on stage for a serenade during ‘I Know What She Likes.’

Aston showcases his signature backflip during ‘The Club is Alive’, using Marvin as a springboard and as he gracefully lands, fireworks shoot into the arena once more.

As the set approaches its finale, two DJ decks materialise, signalling a new twist in the performance. The band members split and engage in a DJ battle featuring hit tracks from the noughties by artists Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled and with the crowd quite literally going ‘Bonkers’ for the Dizzee Rascal track with the excitement reaching fever pitch as two special guests make a surprise appearance on stage. Fleur East alongside Max George from The Wanted join the performance, elevating the already electrifying atmosphere to ear-splitting levels.

Closing the night are the big hitting tracks ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ and ‘Beat Again’ at the end of which Aston, JB, Oritsé and Marvin disappear through trapdoors in a cloud of smoke. But the show isn’t quite over yet, and a video appears on screen as Oritsé reminisces about how the band met and formed accompanied by throwback pictures from the early days of their careers.

Following a swift costume change, the band return to the stage with a captivating performance of “Love You More.” Their harmonious vocals are on full display, effortlessly showcasing the singing skills that won them their dedicated fanbase.

The grand finale of the night is the hit song, “Everybody in Love.” The colour-themed lighting display, which has been a prominent feature throughout the show, is now enhanced by spectacular confetti display in four coordinated colours which rains over the crowd. The fans join in, singing along word for word, harmonizing with the band, and closing the night in perfect harmony. It is a heartwarming and unforgettable moment, with the crowd and the band united in their shared love for the music, making it a night to remember for all in attendance.


Izzy Clayton

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