Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Hand Holding for Cool Collected Cheryl; Pop Princess Turns in a Polished Performance to Thrill Home Crowd

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Hand Holding for Cool Collected Cheryl; Pop Princess Turns in a Polished Performance to Thrill Home Crowd

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Wonfor ? 0191 201 6348 ? sam.wonfor@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE first and last time I was in a room with Cheryl Cole, we were holding hands backstage at what is now the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.

It was June 2003, and the then Miss Tweedy was preparing for her first performance at the Telewest Arena with her Girls Aloud bandmates as part of one of those compilation pop tours.

Aside from observing the all-girl group were bordering on being pocket-sized (as was Dannii Minogue who was on the same bill and sporting some vintage 80s stilettos, presumably from a Barbie car boot sale), I can honestly say I've never seen anyone so uncontrollably nervous.

This was a 19-year-old truly terrified about letting her home fans down.

She was shaking, crying and openly concerned about spoiling her combatthemed stagewear with an impromptu vomit. Hence the hand-holding on my part, which I think you'll agree was over and above, considering the latter point.

Nevertheless, my as yet unused maternal instinct moved me to point out that there was an arena full of people willing her to do well - millions had voted her into the band via the shortlived Popstars: The Rivals talent search on ITV1 - and she was royally backed up by her fellow Girls Alouders who surrounded her like one of those snuggly Slankets.

Of course the performance went swimmingly and the band - who unveiled a single and teaser video of their muchtalked- about reunion yesterday and will be making a 'big' announcement on Friday - went on to platinum-plated success until their 2009 hiatus, including numerous headline returns to the venue.

Meanwhile, Cheryl herself has been elevated to national treasure status via the combined and mysterious forces of The X-Factor, the tabloid telling of a failed marriage, publicly played out spats and make-ups with self-styled global media god Simon Cowell ... and of course a trio of solo albums.

But through it all I've never forgotten the image of a fun-size popstar in pre-show turmoil as she waited to entertain her home crowd. …

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