Review: East 17, Sheffield O2 Academy2

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AFTER appearing in Berlin mid afternoon, 90s heartthrobs East 17 arrived on time much to the relief of fans gathered in the intimate surroundings of the upstairs room.

Formed 20 years ago in Walthamstow - the E17 postal district of London - by main man Tony Mortimer, the band had a five-year run where they sold 20m records - more than their then contemporaries Take That.

After splits and reshuffles the days of outselling Mr Barlow and co are long gone but the ever faithful are still in evidence with familiar screams when they take the stage to roll back the years.

Missing from the current line-up is Brian Harvey, the most notorious of the original quartet, now replaced by Blair Dreelan, a handsome 27-year-old vocalist with a muscular physique.

Many of their 18 charting singles get an airing this evening; opening with début hit House Of Love and quickly followed by Steam and Around The World, they get off to a flier with the predominantly female crowd.

Tony comes off stage several times to rap amid the delighted audience, Blair following suit.

Recently released single Secret Of My Life goes down well, despite failing to trouble the charts, and huge number one Stay Another Day gets the obligatory singalong but the encore Let It Rain is the undoubted highlight, with the entire audience bouncing to the closer.

The East 17 flame still burns brightly in Germany and the loyal British fanbase are keeping the fire flickering on home soil, but the real tester will be if the first studio album for 13 years sets the charts alight when released later this year.

Sean Bruce