Spice Girls kick off world tour in Canada


VANCOUVER -- "Girl Power" returned  Sunday as Britain's Spice Girls kicked off their long-awaited world reunion tour with a more sophisticated look than when they first stormed the pop world in the 1990s.

The quintet -- known by their nicknames Posh, Baby, Sporty Ginger and Scary -- opened their show before a sold-out audience of more than 15,000 people in Vancouver with three of their megahits, including "Spice Up Your Life."

"How ya doing?" Melanie "Sporty Spice" Chisholm asked the raucous crowd in the opening set that also included a video images of the group's history.

The celebrities in the audience included soccer star David Beckham, husband of Victoria "Posh" Beckham, and singer Avril Lavigne.

The Vancouver show launched a tour that will wind its way though Canada, the U.S. and Europe for the next three months, and may be expanded to include concerts in South Africa and South America.

The Spice Girls conquered the music world in the late 1990s, with catchy throw-away songs, teeny-bopper style, and the "girl power" slogan that made them a pop phenomenon to rival the Beatles.

The crowd for the high-energy show that lasted nearly two hours was dominated by teenage girls and women who were teenagers when the group was at its peak.

"It was so good it made me want to cry," said Nicole Bride, 19, from Kenora, Ontario. "It was like being reminded of when you were a little girl dancing in your room."

The band comprising Beckham, Chisholm, Geri "Ginger" Halliwell, Melanie "Scary" Brown and Emma "Baby" Bunton, came together in 1993 after an advertisement for a girl band was posted. The women took control of the group in 1994.

Their debut single "Wannabe" was a global hit in 1996 and they used it in their encore on Sunday.

But their success was short-lived, with Halliwell walking out on the group in 1998. The remaining members went their separate ways after releasing the album "Forever" in 2000.

All now in their 30s with a combined seven children, the singers embarked on solo careers with varying degrees of success. They had not toured together since 1999 and admitted to reporters before the concert they were a bit nervous.

The women performed in costumes designed by designer Roberto Cavalli and were backed by a crew of 10 male dancers.