LONDON (AFP) — The Spice Girls will launch their worldwide comeback tour this weekend, vowing the return of "girl power" more than a decade after making it a buzzword for a generation of teenagers.
The five British singers will take the stage in Vancouver on Sunday at the start of their "The Return of the Spice Girls" tour, including some 40 concerts on five continents over the next few months.
More than 750,000 tickets have already been sold since they unveiled the plans in June. Initially gigs were planned in 11 cities, but due to demand that number has expanded, and some dates still remain to be fixed.
Tickets for the first announced London gig sold out in just 38 seconds. More were added, with the same response, and the British capital will now host 17 concerts from December 15.
The 1990s all-female band, one of the most successful acts in pop music history and the latest to launch a comeback global stadium tour alongside the likes of The Police and Genesis, insist they are not doing it for the money.
"For us, it's about celebrating the past, and it's about our fans. It's really, really the right time," said Geri Halliwell -- "Ginger Spice" -- when the tour was announced.
But the tour is almost certain to be a money-spinner: the girls -- who have been rehearsing in Los Angeles since late October -- could make up to 10 million pounds (21 million dollars) each, according to press reports.
Halliwell will be joined on stage by her fellow bandmates Victoria Beckham ("Posh Spice"), Melanie Brown ("Scary Spice"), Melanie Chisholm ("Sporty Spice") and Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice").
They will travel in a Virgin Atlantic 747 jet whose name, either "Spice One", "Girl Power" or simply "Spice Girl", will be decided by an online competition. "Spice Force One" had also been suggested.
Some 500 costumes have been made by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, while their combined seven children are expected to have a travelling creche.
Their last tour was almost 10 years ago -- it was during it that, on May 31, 1998, Halliwell announced she was quitting. The four remaining girls put out a third album in 2000 before officially splitting in February 2001.
The Spice Girls formed in 1994 after their management company placed a newspaper advertisement.
They sold over 50 million records worldwide and scored nine British number one singles in the 1990s.
Their first hit, "Wannabe" in 1996, was followed by a string of others including "Stop", "Spice Up Your Life" and "Say You'll Be There".
The group became icons of "Cool Britannia" -- Britain's booming popular culture scene in the late 1990s -- and met figures including then South African president Nelson Mandela and Britain's Prince Charles, whose bottom Halliwell pinched.
The five coined the phrase "girl power", a never fully-defined concept which encouraged their mainly teenage and pre-teenage female fans to be more assertive.
The Spice Girls also spawned a vast range of marketing spin-offs, from their 1997 film "Spiceworld" to chocolate, dolls and deodorant.
The comeback tour has been accompanied by their "Greatest Hits" album -- including two new songs -- released earlier this month, while there is also a documentary and a number of marketing tie-ins.
The album entered the British charts at number in its first week, but slipped back to number seven the next, while their single "Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)" bombed, reportedly selling less than 6,000 copies in a week.
As well as the London dates, gigs already scheduled include: Vancouver (December 2), San Jose (Dec 4), Los Angeles (Dec 5-7), Las Vegas (Dec 8, 9, 11), Cologne (Dec 20), Madrid (Dec 23), Manchester (January 23, 24), Boston (Jan 30, 31), Toronto (February 3, 4), New York (Feb 6, 7, 10, 11, 13) and Chicago (Feb 15, 16).
In addition concerts are being arranged in Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney, according to the latest information on the Spice Girls' website.
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