Showbiz: Still good after all these years

16/10/2011 11:25


Westlife may have had its heyday in the late 1990s but fans here still adore the boyband, writes BIBI NURSHUHADA RAMLI
JUST when you are beginning to think that Westlife may not be popular anymore, you are surprised by the number of fans at the Westlife: Live In Kuala Lumpur concert last Friday.

The group from Ireland took the world by storm in 1998 with its catchy tunes and lyrics as well as its boyband image.

Over time, the boyband era gave way to more contemporary artistes, especially soloists.
So, it was no surprise that the 7,600 fans at Putra Stadium Bukit Jalil were mostly made up of adults in their 20s and above who had stayed true to their favourite group, screaming their hearts out for the Irish men.

As the lights dimmed, replaced by spotlights shining sporadically on different parts of the stadium, the curtains were drawn, revealing Westlife members Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne on stage as they performed When You’re Looking Like That.

They are still as vocally talented as we all remember. However, because it was an uptempo song with loud background music, it muffled their voices. Still, the crowd went wild as they watched the band members execute simple choreography in sync with the song.

Next were World Of Our Own, What Makes A Man, Safe (from their latest album Gravity) and Home. The guys were also good at eliciting cheers from the crowd, as they constantly waved and replaced “you” with “Malaysia” in the lyrics.

Byrne then called a man’s name, apparently at random, from a card and invited him and his girlfriend on stage. The audience thought Westlife wanted to serenade the two with a song, but the group and the man had other ideas.

A thunderous cheer was heard when the man proceeded to propose to “the love of his life”, followed by a performance of My Love by the group. She accepted.

The band members also sang Beautiful Tonight as a birthday gift for their production manager.

Westlife then disappeared backstage as musicians continued to play some tunes.

Fans cheered in surprise as the band played the intro to Coldplay’s Viva La Vida.

They were even more thrilled when Westlife began singing a medley of current hits by other artistes, — Only Girl (Rihanna), The Time (Dirty Bit) (Black Eyed Peas) and Bad Romance (Lady Gaga).

Westlife is known for singing other artistes’ songs, so the audience fully enjoyed its renditions, especially Egan’s attempt at emulating Gaga’s Bad Romance.

Feehily surprised me by effortlessly hitting the high notes, without showing any strain on his face, particularly for the chorus of Only Girl. It wasn’t in falsetto, either.

Once again, the men went backstage for a change of costume and sang Seasons In The Sun with a dramatic introduction after their return. The audience sang along to it.

Westlife then sang one of its favourite songs, You Raise Me Up. The audience was asked to wave their lighted handphones in the air, while the stadium lights dimmed. It was a wondrous sight and together with the haunting melody of the song, I could feel the goosebumps.

New songs, I’m Already There and I Will Reach You, were performed next. Even though the fans were not familiar with them, they still loved listening and cheered for more.

“This next song has made us known all around the world,” said Egan as the intro to Flying Without Wings was played. The fans sang along the loudest for this one, and enjoyed Feehily’s elaborate finish.

For the encore, Westlife — dressed in jeans, blazers and bow ties — sang its cover of What About Now (Daughtry) and Uptown Girl (Billy Joel). The fans knew that the end of the concert was near, so they put their all into dancing and singing along to the songs.

The repertoire at the concert showed that Westlife was aware which songs were popular with fans here. That was a brilliant move and ensured fans enjoyed every minute of the concert.

It also showed how much the group appreciated the local fans. Filan was surprised at the strong support after 14 years.

“I remember our first time here,” said Egan at the press conference. “We had just had our first No. 1 hit Swear It Again in Ireland. To go to a place far away from home, play a showcase to 6,000 people and get such an amazing feedback — it just blew us away. The love and support were amazing.”

Westlife will be releasing its second Greatest Hits album next month to celebrate its success and its fans.

This concert was organised by JS Concert Productions, Midas Promotions and Sony Music Malaysia.


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