Reviewed: Once In A Lifetime @ Phones 4u Arena, Manchester

The Once in a Lifetime Tour certainly makes strong claims, even in its name. With the tour seeing some of the defining pop acts of the 1970s perform on the same stage, for many in the audience, this really is a once in a lifetime experience. From the tartan scarves of the Bay City Rollers fans to the retro t-shirts of The Osmonds followers, as the Phones 4u Arena fills up it’s clear that this is going to be a night of nostalgia.

The evening begins with the Bay City Rollers. As the sound of bagpipes fills the arena, lead singer Les Mckeown enters the stage to rapturous applause. Still wearing the same tartan suit that he wore on the band’s 1974 tour, McKeown takes the audience back 40 years as the band play a hit filled set including their cover of Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Wanna Be With You’. With people dancing in the aisles and on their feet throughout, the highlight of the set however is the classic ‘Bye Bye Baby’ which gets the biggest sing-a-long of the night.

Although the acts may be older than they were at the height of their fame, the next act Showaddywaddy certainly haven’t lost any of their energy as they dance and demonstrate their impressive harmonies with covers including ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Under the Moon of Love’.

Next up is one of the 1970s biggest heartthrobs, David Essex. Greeted with a huge cheer, he is affable and charming throughout his upbeat set which includes hits from his solo career such as ‘Hold Me Close’ as well as songs from musicals he’s appeared in such as Evita. ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ however slows the set down and sees the audience fall silent. Just when you thought he might be losing the crowd however, the ballad ends and applause erupts around the venue. He always had the audience in the palm of his hands.

In the wait for the final act, The Osmonds, the audience can be heard reminiscing about their memories of the band. From just missing out on tickets to see them the first time round to dancing around the house to their music, it’s lovely to hear so many people getting the chance to live out their childhood dream of seeing their idols live. As the videos on stage show clips from the height of Osmond mania the excitement in the crowd builds. Despite there only being three of the Osmonds here tonight they can still get the crowd on their feet. Having been in the industry for over 40 years, Jimmy, Merrill and Jay’s performance is sleek. With their synchronised dancing and their on pitch voices as they sing hits such as ‘Crazy Horses’ and ‘Love Me for a Reason’, their experience certainly shows.

Although not for everyone, the night is undoubtedly a lesson in definitive 70s pop. For the majority of the audience however, this tour is something that their younger selves could’ve only dreamt of.