REVIEW: Westlife, Sheffield Arena

WESTLIFE are certainly Flying Without Wings again. After a two-year break from the road the chart topping band packed out Sheffield's Arena in the first week of their latest national tour - with their cover of The Boys Are Back In Town an appropriate choice to get the gig in full swing.

Appearing on stage to deafening applause and screams from their adoring fans, Westlife's Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, Kian Egan, Nicky Byrne belted out hit after hit from their 12 years spent at the top of the charts including You Raise Me Up, What About Now, If I Let You Go and I'm Already There.

They also sang their most popular covers - Uptown Girl, Mandy and Home - but what got the crowd on their feet more than anything was a set in the middle of the gig when the band swapped their usual ballads for a more current sound and had fun on the stage performing covers of I've Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas, Sex Is On Fire by Kings of Leon and Halo by Beyonce.

The ditched their usual suits for leather jackets and jeans for the set and rocked out with the crowd.

Kian's guitar solo for the Boys Are Back In Town was also something different for their loyal fans who have followed them round the country since they shot to fame in 1998, as were acappella sections performed in My Love and I'm Never Gonna Say Goodbye.

With the gig based around a space and futuristic theme one of the showstoppers of the night was the moment a giant robot exploded with pyrotechnic fireworks setting the stage alight before a confetti shower covered the crowd.

Mark, one of the two main singers, said the first week on tour had been "amazing" with the boys feeling like they have never been away.

"We have not been on tour for two years. We were a bit nervous coming back on tour but it's like we never left," he added.

Kian, whose brother Gavin - a Sheffield schoolteacher - was in the crowd on the first of their two gigs in the city, said: "It's absolutely brilliant to be back on tour."

With World Of Our Own one of the hits performed last night, the title to the song says it all...Westlife really are in a league of their own.

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