The Twenty Tour: Westlife in Sheffield review
“Sheffield the big question we have is did you miss us as much as we missed you?” asks Westlife’s Shane Filan as he addresses capacity-crowds at Sheffield’s FlyDSA on Saturday night.
As an aural tsunami of delighted cheers ensues, it is clear the answer is a resounding yes and that the much-loved Irish boy band are still as popular as ever – marking a triumphant comeback to the city as they celebrate their twentieth anniversary.
A fresh-faced Westlife first broke into the pop scene at the turn of the millennium with their debut single Swear It Again soaring straight to number one in the UK – the first in what would go on to be seven consecutive UK number one’s in just two years.
Numerous chart-topping hits later, and having perfected the art of stepping up from a stool for the key change, the boys bid farewell much to the disappointment of loyal fans.
Now, returning seven years later for The Twenty Tour, you would think they had never even left the stage.
Clad in a somewhat military-style ensemble, Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily emerged to kick off the show with Hello My Love, an Ed Sheeran-penned single from comeback album Spectrum.
The showmanship offered a more pared-down and mature style as the band graced the stage alone accompanied only by a live band situated in the wings.
A vast lighting display, pyrotechnics and computerised backdrop completed the staging along with an abundance of confetti to shower crowds throughout the show.
After warming up the crowd with their first single in almost a decade it seemed only fitting that the lads revisited the classic Swear It Again as they began a nostalgic trip over the last two decades.
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What about Now and My Love were next before the more energetic When You’re Looking Like That and Uptown Girl led to a classic rendition of Mandy – all sang by the crowd, who knew the lyrics off by heart.
A quick costume change to leather ensembles brought a mid-show surprise for fans in the form of a well executed Queen medley.
This was Kian’s idea as we find out later in the show but it served to show Mark’s vocal range perfectly as he took over the role of famous frontman Freddie Mercury.
Overall it was a great show with vocals on point throughout, despite Shane forgetting a few words in I Want To Go Home, which gave a glimpse into the playful banter between the band, as they laughed and joked with not only each other but also the crowd.
Not wanting to completely revamp their image, the stools made a welcome appearance for Unbreakable, Queen of My Heart and Fool Again during a set in which you could genuinely tell they were enjoying themselves and humbled by their achievements.
Proving they are not only popular with a once predominately female fan base they later welcomed a seven-year-old male fan on stage for a picture, undeniably a great experience and one for him to look back in many years to come.
This was followed by You Raise Me Up – a breathtaking and somewhat emotional moment as a sea of torchlights from people’s mobiles phones lit up the arena, with some fans even shedding a tear.
By the time the encore was upon us with Flying Without Wings the lads had taken us through a roller coaster of emotions aptly leading to the finale, World of Our Own, in which even reluctant partners dragged along to the show were on their feet dancing.
Proving they can still sell out arenas in a matter of minutes, and with a new man band persona rivalling the likes of Take That, it seems there is no end in sight for Westlife and I for one can’t wait to hear the rest of the new album.