Studying abroad in London offers many opportunities to experience the great culture of a country whose history dates back thousands of years. While the culture and history are fascinating, being here has also allowed the opportunity of going on Amy Winehouse-style pub crawls, making constant Harry Potter references and the chance to see the Spice Girls reunite in its native country in smashing, spit-spot, jolly 'ol London.\nOriginally formed in England in 1993 when they all responded to an add for five "lively girls" for a music group, the Spice Girls gained widespread attention in 1996 with its first single "Wannabe" and its 1997 debut album Spice. The following year, it released its sophomore album Spiceworld, with its film of the same name. In May 1998, Geri Halliwel, a.k.a., Ginger Spice, departed the group. By Christmas, the group scored another hit with the appropriately titled single "Goodbye." Following its last and unsuccessful studio album, 2000's Forever, the group announced its separation. After numerous weddings, solo efforts, scandals and children of their own, The Spice Girls announced its worldwide reunion tour that began December 2007. The closest the girls will get to Bloomington on this tour will be Feb. 15, when they stop in Chicago. \nArriving at London's largest indoor venue, the 20,000-seat O2 Arena, advertisements of the concert flashed as people swarmed to get into the doors. No fans were decked out in costumes, and all the 12-year-old fans of the late-'90s are now in their 20s. Chants of "Spice Girls! Spice Girls!" filled the arena as the lights went out and images of the girls appeared on the stage screens. The lights went up, and blasts of "la la la la la la" started as the girls rose up on stage tearing into "Spice Up Your Life." \nAfter thanking the crowd and stating how great it was to be back, they proceeded into "Say You'll Be There," the new single "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)" and "The Lady is a Vamp," which was accompanied by Chicago-inspired black hats and burlesque dance moves. The girls also took a note from the TRL era of Britney Spears and 'NSYNC that followed their fame, aligning themselves with a group of backup dancers, as well as a live band. However, there was no lip-synching that night by the Spice Girls. \nInstead of its characteristic individualized costumes (no cat ears for Scary, sports bra for Sporty or little Gucci dress for Posh), the girls favored matching clothing schemes of sparkling whites, creams and boxing robes designed by Roberto Cavalli (after all these years, still no skirts for Sporty.) However, Geri's British flag dress (as well as giant Brit flags everywhere) showed up during "Who Do You Think You Are." \nEach singer performed something individually from her solo career. Surrounded by black-and-white peppermint swirls, Emma Bunton, a.k.a., Baby Spice, brought back London's swingin'-'60s vibe with her song "Maybe." Scary covered Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way," bringing a fan up on stage, only to handcuff him to a ladder and kick him with a whip. \nInstead of ignoring Geri's initial departure, the other girls had the balls, or whatever the girl-power equivalent to testosterone is, to play Post-Ginger songs such as "Holler" without her. At the end of the song, giant storm clouds and lightning bolts filled the screens. Ginger walked out in a raincoat accompanied by shirtless guys, giant vats of steam blowing up from the stage, and plenty of umbrellas as she sang her biggest hit, a cover of The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men."\nIn the early years, the song "Mama" always featured the girls with pictures of their mums in the background. These days they're able to add pictures of them with their own kids (seven in all ... Mel C., a.k.a., "Sporty Spice," is the only one yet to pop one out.) About 25 girls aligned in matching white dresses appeared out of nowhere, turning the stage into an episode of "Deal or No Deal." (Instead of supermodels, they turned out to be a children's choir and managed to make a sappy, sentimental song rock.) \nBefore closing with "Goodbye," the group sang a medley of songs that included Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" and Kool and the Gang's "Celebration." \nWaiting only a minute to come back for the encore, the girls stalled by joking about which hit song they had forgotten to play. And so it began -- the song that started it all -- "Wannabe," with Mel B. shouting, "Yo I tell you what I want ... " and ending with a reprise of "Spice Up Your Life," while flags from numerous countries appeared on screen. \nAs the thousands of people poured out into the packed tube station, people still screamed cheers of joy and girl power, and many complained, "Why can't they stay together"
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