Well that’s that then. The end of an era, for us at least.
I took my daughter to her first ever gig 11 years ago when she was 11 and madly in love with Nicky from Westlife. They entered the stage from big globes and the crowd went mad. We had good enough seats in those days that my daughter was able to go down to the foot of the stage, scream directly at Nicky Byrne, who must have wondered what had hit him, and come running back to me to tell me all about her “eye-to-eye contact”. It became something of a family joke.
Last night was our final Westlife concert as they are bowing out of the boyband scene, well Mark is celebrating his 32nd birthday today so some might say it is about time, but they have always known how to put on a show that was worthy of the title “show business” and in many ways I will be sad to see them go.
A Westlife gig is similar to an extended hen party with 12,000 of your closest friends. The women are mostly tanked up and tank topped or boob tubed, especially in the furnace that was Glasgow’s SECC yesterday. Banners, foam fingers, light up wands and bunny ears are de rigueur as are plastic cups, handbag checks and mobile phone cameras recording every moment. Dry ice, flames, dancers and fireworks are mandatory on stage. Queuing up to get taxis or to leave car parks is how the evening ends but the high outweighs these minor trials.
In the early days they were a five piece band of “straight” unmarried boys who lived squeaky clean lives – Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne. Brian McFadden was part of the group until 2004 . Marriages, babies, divorces, death of parents and coming out have marked the past 14 years and their audience has grown along with them.
We wanted to be able to dance, laugh, remember and cry all while seeing our “boys” acknowledge that they are men who are ready to move on to pastures new. Time to take children to school, ride horses, trade property, write songs for other people and drink with other friends. In the same period my daughter has gone to secondary school, finished her joint honours degree, bought her first flat and lived through a hurricane and nearly being blown off the edge of the Grand Canyon. So, last night had a lot to live up to.
The evening started with the usual giant screen picture of audience members getting ready to party – women flashing their boobs, women texting, women hugging friends they hadn’t seen for a while. The music began and the first thing we saw was four figures standing on the stage catching fire and then disappearing below the stage – wow, what a start!
We were really far back – as far as you can get – but the giant screens fulfill that role of letting you see facial expressions while letting you experience the live music and special effects. There were a few costume changes, which was just as well on the hottest night of the year, a medley section set within a fun fair with a Zoltar machine – think Coney Island in “Big” – telling you to wish for your favourite tracks and then they launched into our favourite high energy numbers such as The Black Eyed Peas “I’ve Got A Feeling”.
The highlight for us however was when they got into another globe shape and flew out over the audience so that we could see them up close and personal. I’d have rather had something other than Mandy at this point, “Flying without wings” perhaps.
All in all, a brilliant girls’ night out.