Westlife revisited17/10/2011 07:32
FIRST of all, a confession. When I was in my teens, I was a huge fan of Westlife. So, it was with more than a little thrill of excitement that I went for Westlife’s Gravity Tour 2011 concert at Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil 10 days ago.
Since its last appearance in Malaysia a decade ago, Westlife – consisting of Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Nicky Byrne and Kian Egan, minus former member Brian McFadden – returned to entertain an audience of over 12,000 fans, all from a diverse range of age groups, from screaming teenagers to middle-aged women.
After keeping fans waiting for 40 minutes, the lights finally went out and screams filled the air. The four members appeared onstage in suave black suits, the first of five costume changes that night.
They came on singing When You’re Looking Like That, and followed by World of Our Own and What Makes a Man.
Accompanied by a four-man band, Westlife then performed Safe, the lead single from its Gravity album, before launching into the first cover song of the night, Michael Buble’s Home.
Westlife also had a few big surprises up their sleeves. Shane then announced they would be singing a love song to two ‘random’ people from the audience, and then called up a man, who also brought his girlfriend onstage with him.
The whole thing was then revealed to be an elaborate marriage proposal, as man went down on his knee before the stunned, unsuspecting girl and the squealing audience.
Westlife were leaning over them, and excitedly announced the result: “She said ‘yes’!”
There were screams of delight from the audience. The band then serenaded the happy couple with My Love, with the audience singing along.
But the surprises did not end there. The guys called out for their production manager Mills, who was celebrating his birthday the following day.
“Everyone, let’s sing happy birthday to Mills!” called out Nicky, enthusiastically.
Mills then grabbed the microphone and reminded Nicky: “In two days, it’s going to be your birthday!” They then forced Mills to sit onstage with them while they performed Beautiful Tonight, although Mills tried to run off twice.
After a break, the quartet returned to perform a medley of covers, including Viva La Vida, Only Girl in the World, Time of My Life and Bad Romance.
It was also a good opportunity for the boys to show off their dancing skills, and have fun with the fans.
Throughout the night, the guys took videos and photos of the audience with their mobile phones, telling them that they would be posting them on their Twitter accounts.
“How many of you follow Westlife on Twitter?” Shane asked, getting thousands of screams in return.
Kian then asked the crowd to do him a favour. “My wife is at home pregnant with our first child. We have a nickname for the baby – Twinkle,” he said. “So I’d like you all to say ‘Hello, Twinkle!’ and I’ll record it and show it to the baby in a few years’ time.”
That moment reminded everyone that members of Westlife have all grown up, and almost all of them are now fathers. Yet, it was also apparent that the passage of time had not diminished the fans’ enthusiasm one bit.
The guys then launched into a series of slow songs, beginning with the singalong hit Seasons in the Sun, the powerful ballad You Raise Me Up, Already There, I Will Reach You and also “the song that started it all” – the massive hit, Flying Without Wings.
The guys then left the stage, but their fans screamed out for an encore which they dutifully obliged. They returned to end the night with a cover of Daughtry’s What About Now and Uptown Girl.
Overall, the two-hour concert itself was not perfect. There were a few technical glitches, including Mark’s mic not working properly at the start, and the dodgy camerawork for the big screens in the hall, as well as a few instances when their voices went off-key.
But to the fans there that night, none of that mattered. Everyone was there to have fun, and for more than a few, it was a nostalgic journey to relive their youth.