Girls Aloud fans in tears as the band duet with late singer Sarah Harding as they kick off reunion tour in her memory

GIRLS Aloud had fans in tears as they duetted with their late bandmate Sarah Harding from beyond the grave as they reunited for the first time in 11 years.

The girl group – featuring Cheryl Tweedy, 40, Nicola Roberts, 38, Nadine Coyle, 42, and Kimberley Walsh, 38 – kicked off their comeback tour at the 3Arena in Dublin on Friday night.

Girls Aloud kicked off their reunion tour, performing for the first time since Sarah Harding's death

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Girls Aloud kicked off their reunion tour, performing for the first time since Sarah Harding’s death
The girls paid tribute to Sarah who died of cancer in 2021

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The girls paid tribute to Sarah who died of cancer in 2021
The girl group held hands as they paid tribute to Sarah

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The girl group held hands as they paid tribute to SarahCredit: Splash

During the show, they made several references to Sarah and showed footage of her on huge screens behind the stage.

It was their first time performing since she passed away following a cancer battle in 2021.

In the encore, they sang their 2008 single The Promise and had Sarah sing her verse.

But it was their cover of the Pretenders hit I’ll Stand By You, which they had a No1 with in 2004, which had fans in tears.

Nadine explained: “This next one we’re going to do really is a duet. We were looking through things to do and this song that we’re going to do, it’s Sarah singing the whole song.

“So we’re going to do a duet with Sarah tonight. It’ll be Sarah and it’ll be us and it’ll be you. Let’s all do this together.”

One fan tweeted: “So many lovely moments for Sarah tonight. crying my eyes out still. Cant believe i just got to see Girls Aloud on opening night in Dublin.”

Another wrote: “I’m honestly crying. We miss you Sarah #GirlsAloud.”

Nicola introduced Whole Lotta History with a teary speech, while the song ended with black and white footage of Sarah walking along the River Thames singing the track.

She said: “When we recorded this next song in 2005 for our Chemistry record, 19 years ago, we all loved the song, it was very special to us, but we had no idea that 19 years later it would become so poignant on our journey.”

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At the end of that performance, a message appeared on the screens reading: “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.”

Elsewhere during the show’s 20-song setlist, they performed Wake Me Up while straddling motorbikes which flew over the audience and wore inflatable dresses for Sexy! No No No…

One of our main aims on this tour is to do Sarah ­justice and give us and our fans that moment to celebrate her.

Kimberley Walsh

The noughties girl group said they were embarking on their reunion tour to show their kids what they became famous for.

Cheryl, Nadine and Kimberley have five kids between them and they are all eager to see the gigs.

‘Bring back memories’

Reminiscing about a time their late bandmate Sarah, Cheryl said: “Sarah stayed with me for about a week and she was throwing around ideas of how we could celebrate 20 years of Girls Aloud while she was still here.

“At one point, she did say to us, ‘Even if I can’t make it, I hope you girls do it without me’.”

Kimberley added: “One of our main aims on this tour is to do Sarah ­justice and give us and our fans that moment to celebrate her.

“I think they need it — I think we all need it.”

Cheryl said: “I think one of our ­driving forces is that our kids are going to see us on stage and think we’re actually cool.

“They’re going to see Mammy on stage!”

Girls Aloud reunion tour set list

The reunited noughties pop group put together a set list of all their biggest hits.

ACT ONE

  • Untouchable
  • The Show
  • Something New
  • Love Machine
  • Can’t Speak French
  • Biology
  • Whole Lotta History

ACT TWO

  • Wake Me Up
  • Sound of the Underground
  • Girl Overboard
  • No Good Advice
  • Graffiti My Soul
  • Long Hot Summer
  • I’ll Stand By You

ACT THREE

  • Sexy! No No No…
  • On the Metro
  • Jump
  • Call the Shots
  • Something Kinda Ooooh

ENCORE

Girls Aloud, who split in 2013 after a whopping 21 Top Ten hits including their first Sound Of the Underground, have been rehearsing for five weeks to prepare for the tour.

They shared photos from the dance studio and their plane ­journey to Ireland on Instagram.

Speaking about the impact of their back catalogue, Cheryl said: “I want us to bring back happy memories for people.

“I love listening to music that transports me to the way I felt at a different time, and I think Girls Aloud are that band for a lot of people.”

Kimberley continued: “I think I’m only realising now just how much our music means to people.

“I get so many different kinds of people approaching me to say our songs hold special memories for them.”

The tour will continue across the UK until the end of June before they headline Brighton Pride in August.

At one point the band rode in on motorcycles

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At one point the band rode in on motorcyclesCredit: Splash
Fans went wild as the band performed on stage

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Fans went wild as the band performed on stageCredit: Splash
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