The Sugababes - Ampersand - 27.3.01

Its an age thing, surely. Why else would a pop act be heading out on a short tour with the NME. Keisha, Mutya and Siobhan are part of the generation that has continuously been fed a whole host of talentless chumps masquerading as talented artists. If there's one reason to love the Sugababes its that they're challenging the rules of what makes a successful pop act. If tonight's crowd is anything to go by, you could say they are already half way there.

Sugababes are the real deal. While the whole world is getting into a lather about how Popstars are showing the kids just how shallow the industry is, Sugababes are getting out there and doing it live. As the vocals kick into opener "Look At Me" worried faces look around and think "Damn, we've been duped into a Milli Vanilli style con" - then the girls walk on stage singing their teenage hearts out. If its unconventional to start with the most minimalistic song in your collection then so be it, they always have been a little unconventional.

And it all took such a small gesture to win over the credible indie kids hearts. It came in the form of "Overload" and when the girls sat nonchalantly on their stools it had the same affect as Liam Gallagher classic stance. Such a small point, but one that stood out from the likes of Steps and Scooch. In the way that All Saints clashed against the Spice Girls image the 'babes took it all to its penultimate conclusion - the end of the pop puppets.

After "One Touch, "The Real Thing", "Soul Sound" and a short acapella version of "Goodbye" they finish off with new single "Run For Cover". A song that looks set to give them another number 1, but if it doesn't does it really matter. If this whole pop dream messes up the girls will still be writing and singing long after the camera's have gone. I for one will be down the front next time they play. Make sure you're there too.

Alex McCann