Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 May 2015

Fast, furious and very cheesy night with Ant and Dec

Dec with a member of the audience during last night's show at the Odyssey Arena
Dec with a member of the audience during last night's show at the Odyssey Arena

Most performers who started out acting in a 1990s children's show would be lucky to be switching on their hometown's Christmas lights in 2014.

But not so Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who have spun their modest origins on Byker Grove into a multi-media phenomenon.

As Ant and Dec, they have become this generation's answer to Bob Monkhouse, Noel Edmonds or Chris Evans, a welcome presence in the nation's living rooms each weekend.

And not content with that, they have now taken their hit ITV show Saturday Night Takeaway on the road, selling out arenas across the land.

Last night, the tour reached Belfast for the first of four sold-out shows, a feat many million-selling rock bands can barely muster these days.

"It's Thursday night, it's 7.50 and we're live in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast," came the announcement, and so began nearly three hours of fast and furious entertainment.

After a rather dodgy intro that saw Ant and Dec howling their way through The Boys Are Back In Town, the show settled into a mixture of banter, games and musical guests, with Ant and Dec presiding over proceedings like the over-excited, slightly saucy men-children they are.

Audience participation was the order of the evening, from the pair posing for selfies with fans to the low-rent Takeaway on Tour Awards, which featured such delights as a bloke who had vomited in a stranger's hood and a dad who had licked mayonnaise off his fussy daughter's burger before giving it to her. Elsewhere, there was a karaoke contest, the popular Ant vs Dec segment and the much-trumpeted Win the Ads, which saw a punter take home all manner of pricey goods.

Guests included the former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, Westlife's Kian Egan, the boy band Blue and the stars of Riverdance, while boxing champ Michael Conlan and the pupils of St Paul's Primary School added some local flavour.

Sure, it was all cheesier than a three-cheese pizza being eaten by a man wearing smelly socks, but Ant and Dec's freewheeling style belies their professionalism. Considering how much scope there was for things to go wrong, everything was seamlessly done.

Finishing on the No.1 single from their PJ and Duncan days, the hard-working duo proved not just Ready To Rhumble, but willing and able, too.

Three stars

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