After taking a well-earned break to concentrate on their own projects some successful, like Cheryl's solo work, and to a lesser degree Nicola's critically acclaimed solo album and fashionwork, and some less so, like Sarah Harding's flirtation with acting - the girls are back in town. And it's rather fitting that the tour which will probably be the last begins in Newcastle, home of arguably the Girls' most famous member, in front of an energetic and loud crowd, filling the Metro Radio Arena will screams of appreciation bordering on manic levels. In return for their fandom, those in attendance were treated to a highly-glossed greatest hits show, quick in pace and far more polished than the Girls were way back in the early days. They are the finished product now, having honed their skills and their routines over almost a decade, and this gig rightly feels like a celebration of that journey, beginning as it does with debut hit Sound of the Underground. As they descend from the rafters on a lit-up platform, the girls effuse poise and grace they are a highly tuned engine capable of belting out their pop hits perfectly, and the spell-bound crowd clearly can't get enough. They're gripped through multiple colourful costume changes, as the Girls navigate their entire catalogue, via burlesque feather shows and eye-catching show-pieces including a giant Girls Aloud sign and lit-up steps. And despite the artifice of the costumes and sets, they're never better than when it's just them, singing together on stage, with thousands of beaming faces turned up towards them. The banter is kept to a minimum, and the incredibly well-written songs shine just as they should. Aside from a slight hiccup with the audio track, which left the girls miming over empty air briefly, and Sarah's repeated over-enthusiasm and over-indulgence on the microphone, it was a powerhouse pop performance polished, exquisite and wonderful to watch. In other words, everything a Girls Aloud fan could hope for, and the perfect celebration of their career together. Fans might not want to accept it, but it looks like this is where the Girls Aloud story ends Cheryl has outgrown the group, and at times felt a little removed, with the chemistry never quite as authentic as it was in the early days, and there have been repeated comments, from Cheryl mostly, that this will be the final tour. If this is indeed the end, and the tearful goodbyes (especially from hometown girl Cheryl) would suggest so, the world of pop will be missing one of its crown jewels. And while there are now some new girl groups on the block, there are very few out there, whether manufactured or otherwise, who can match Girls Aloud for their performance or the staging of their tours. Set-list Sound of the Underground No Good Advice Life Got Cold Wake Me Up Jump The Show Love Machine Whole Lotta History Can't Speak French Biology Sexy No No Untouchable On The Metro Call The Shots Something Kinda Ooh Call Me Maybe (Cover) Beautiful Cause You Love Me Something New Encore: Stand By You The Promise View From The CrowdPhoto Credit: Carolyn McGeary Were you at the gig? Share your own thoughts below.