Pop Legend Christina Aguilera Gets Down And Dirrty in Scarborough
Words John Hayhurst, Photos Dave Lawrence and Paul Dixon
Scarborough Open Air Theatre do it again, enticing a superknown US artist over to play the seaside town’s main concert venue, last time it was Britney Spears, this year Christina Aguilera or ‘Xtina’ as she likes to be known. This venue is becoming ‘the’ destination on the Yorkshire East Coast live music circuit and the show tonight is the season’s highlight, it is packed in here, we are expecting rain at some point but all seats are taken and eager fans await the arrival on stage of their Queen.
Tonight Xtina showcases several different sides and she splits her set into 4 key sections, with costume changes and dancers for each this means it is the biggest production Scarborough has seen as she brings her concert Xperience to life.
Opening with the barnstormer ‘Dirrty’ it gets everyone on their feet and dancing, Xtina is in shiny black chaps, boots and a metallic basque outfit, mirrored shades and her blonde hair tied back, she is flanked by several dancers who surround her while flashes of white compressed air shoot to the top of the stage lights. That clears out the pigeons and seagulls from the stage scaffolding, a strong opener and ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’ drops the tempo only a fraction. We then have an intro to ‘Genie in the Bottle’ before the song itself, Xtina showing her full vocal range and her eyes – as the shades are finally off. End of Act 1.
Time for a spoken intro about how she has always been true to her origins even when they asked her to change her name and she is proud of her Latino roots, recording her latest album in Spanish. She proceeds to run act 2 as a Latino section, which surprisingly works well in Scarbados.
‘Santo’ and ‘Sueltame’ has everyone swaying and trying to ‘out strictly’ the next person. Still no sign of rain, so the ponchos are cast to the floor. This section ends with an on screen duet which sounds like a ramped up ‘Despacito’ and then a DJ club rave moment with all dancers on stage enabling Xtina to escape and change into her next outfit.
The set changes to a west end cinema screen and film footage with a James Brown soundtrack, we have the hi energy performance of ‘Aint No Other Man’ and ‘Candyman’ with a brief excerpt of ‘Moves Like Jagger’ in for good measure, if you weren’t on your feet at this point, there really isn’t any hope for you. Switching from that to Burlesque and a confetti-soaked run through of ‘Lady Marmalade’ complete with whips, feathers and all black outfits certainly kept the heat on and by then we were on the home straight. An hour had gone by incredibly fast.
My only critical comment is that here were very few moments tonight where you feel like you saw and heard the real Xtina, as this was a set with precision and timing, with no chance of any adhoc changes. It was showbiz, Las Vegas glamour style, and rather than having the fourth costume change or intro I would have wished that she let the guard down a little and fitted in some extra songs. However, I’m clearly in the minority, as we have another pre-recorded intro for ‘Beautiful’ before she unleashes that voice on that song – often mimicked on every talent show since its release. No-one does it like Xtina though. Ironically she messes up her cue and starts a little nervous laughter – perhaps we are getting to see the real person after all.
‘Fighter’ is immense to follow and finally we get a goodbye speech asking us all to “love each other, give people the freedom to choose who they want to be, life is too short to take choices away from each other,” before the pride anthem of ‘Let There Be Love’. Saving all the fire, confetti and spurts of compressed air for this last song, they unleash it and cover the standing section, creating some sweaty papier-mache masks on the front row.
This was an 80 minute showcase of Christina Aguilera, the pop icon, a proper showbiz spectacular which had everything you wanted to see. I wonder who the Scarborough Open Air Theatre will have next year, Is Beyoncé doing anything next August?
Can’t Hold Us Down
Genie in a Bottle
What a Girl Wants
Pa’ mis muchachas
Feel This Moment/Cristina
Ain’t No Other Man
Moves Like Jagger
Let There Be Love