When Girls Aloud made their Aberdeen debut in 2003, in the infancy of their pop career, fans and critics alike predicted bigger things to come.
Now, 20 years on, after a stratospheric rise to fame, the group are to bring their pop hits back to the Granite City for the third time.
Girls Aloud – consisting of Kimberley Walsh, Nadine Coyle, Cheryl Tweedy and Nicola Roberts – will return to Aberdeen for their 21st anniversary celebrations next year.
The band said the huge arena tour is a tribute to bandmate Sarah Harding who sadly died of breast cancer aged only 39 two years ago.
Girls Aloud made Aberdeen debut at Free at the Dee in 2003
It’s been 16 years since one of Britain’s most successful girl bands appeared in the north-east at the peak of their pop domination.
The girls kicked off the Scottish leg of their The Greatest Hits Tour in Aberdeen on May 15 2007.
But it wasn’t the group’s first visit to the city, Girls Aloud played Aberdeen in 2003 as a freshly-minted girl band.
The band were one of the few runaway successes from the painful tsunami of noughties TV talent shows that dominated Saturday night telly.
Girls Aloud were part of a spectacular bill of reality show stars including Liberty X, Girls Aloud, David Sneddon, Darius and Lisa Scott-Lee.
And it’s testament to their talent and archive of hits that two decades later they can still fill arenas.
It was a slightly less glam setting for their inaugural Aberdeen gig.
Around 40,000 revellers turned out on a typically wet and cold day for the open-air Free and the Dee at Duthie Park.
But their spirits weren’t dampened, and Girls Aloud stole the show.
Girls Aloud – Kimberley Walsh, Nadine Coyle, Cheryl Tweedy, Sarah Harding and Nicola Roberts – sang their three hit singles to date.
The band attracted glowing reviews for their stage presence and slick performance.
And they were just as complimentary about the fans, Nadine said: “We couldn’t believe the fans – it was a brilliant atmosphere. It’s our first time in Aberdeen together as a band.
“The crowds up here are amazing – there’s nothing better.”
Girls made dramatic entrance in Granite City
But it would be another four years before Girls Aloud returned to the city.
This time their concert was upgraded from a free gig at a rainy park, to a headline tour at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC).
A few years on from their early days, the girls were more polished, and their “sultry” outfits were as much a talking point as their discography.
The Evening Express review said the band members made “a dramatic entrance on to the stage as they were lowered from a suspended platform high above the audience”.
The popstrels were dressed in different interpretations of LA-style – obviously with impressive gold glittery boots – and strutted their stuff to one of their best-known hits, Something Kinda Ooh.
Act one included Wake Me Up, a cover of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way and concluded with Jump (For My Love).
By now the audience of 4,400 was well and truly warmed up, and in the mood for dancing.
Girls’ ‘seamless performance’ received ‘rapturous welcome’
Clearly feeling the heat, the band made a swift outfit change and donned 1980s Dirty Dancing-inspired hot pants to perform No Good Advice and Long Hot Summer.
And to keep things interesting, the girls sang their next hit Whole Lot of History on a bright pink sofa suspended from the roof, before taking the keen audience through a medley of Dirty Dancing classics.
The girls followed with their debut single Sound of the Underground, followed by After Life Got Cold and Graffiti My Soul.
Things got up tempo again for a rousing finale of fan-favourite Love Machine and an encore of Biology.
It was only their second gig in a 22-date tour, but the Evening Express reviewer said they “executed it seamlessly and Aberdeen gave their seamless performance a rapturous welcome”.
The girls did a meet-and-greet for competition winners ahead of the performance, and Nadine – clearly a fan of Aberdeen – again told revellers “she really liked the city”.
And added that “she was especially glad the sun had been shining during their visit”.
With a date set for June 4 next year, there’s at least a small chance the sun will be shining for the girls again.