Photography and Review by Brittany Long
Melbourne waited 25 years for Boyzone, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. Aptly dubbed the ‘Thankyou and Goodnight Tour’ it was a bittersweet performance, being both the first and last Boyzone performance Melbourne would ever see.
Support act Brian McFadden kicked off the show with some hilarious banter right from the moment he stepped foot on stage, reminding us all that he ‘had a date with Crown Casino‘ after his set. Playing a mix of his originals alongside those made famous through his time in Westlife he catered to all his fans. Opening with ‘Champagne and wine’ one of his newest releases from album ‘Otis‘. This followed with a hit Westlife track ‘Queen of my Heart’ and another ‘Otis‘ album track ‘Cigarettes and Coffee‘. Joking about the faces he pulls when he sing, and having them looking nothing like those ‘signature Boyzone sexy poses’ which he demonstrated, and more like poop faces. His banter remained relentless, pulling jokes left right and centre, with a particular emphasis on late-comers and he didn’t hold back. Stopping the show for one particular couple who were extremely late whom he accosted to having taken nearly as long as Boyzone to get there ‘the boys took 25 years for them to get here and they’re not far off it’. The audience were continually left wondering if they were at a stand up comedy show or a concert! He provided the laughs in abundance. Eight songs in he released his band from their duties, joking that he had ‘only paid the band for seven songs’. This saw him break out an acoustic guitar that ‘was in tune when he bought it’ and play an incredible performance of ‘Like Only a Woman Can’, a track from his first proper album ‘Set in Stone’. My highlight and personal favourite by far.
As the conclusion of his time on stage approached Brian established that he ‘only had one more’ because ‘his uber was waiting for him’. He was very reminiscent of his time playing alongside Boyzone and ended his set with ‘Flying without wings’, which he described as ‘his favourite Westlife song that he’s sung at every gig he’s ever done’. Dedicating it to Boyzone, he detailed how his music career started 20 years ago supporting Boyzone, back when Ronan was the Westlife manager. Telling the audience how bands used to pay thousands to be able to support Boyzone, but the boys let them do it for free, and were not only bandmates but also
mentors to him. He emphasised that this started off his career and that he wouldn’t be where he is without Boyzone, and ‘not just the four of them, but Stephen as well’. He made it known just how ‘strange it was to think of not having Boyzone play a concert every year’ and the audience joined in on the final chorus ‘flying without wings’ a beautiful ending.
Finally it was time, Irish boy band Boyzone hit the stage to the roar of the albeit smaller than expected crowd. As the four men; Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch, no longer boys, hit the stage. Women in the crowd went wild! For many this was a moment they’d been waiting for since they were teenagers, back when posters of Ronan Keating and Boyzone used to adorn their bedroom walls. Opening with ‘Who we are’ and smashing out hit after hit Boyzone showed Melbourne right from the start exactly who they were and proved that it would be a night to remember. Their setlist consisted of the new to the very very old, and was a wonderful trip down memory lane, encompassing the many moments of their careers. ‘Love is a Hurricane’, ‘Isn’t it a wonder’, ‘Coming Home Now’ and ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ were just some of the many tracks incorporated on the jam packed setlist
The visuals were amazing and the lighting a dream. In between songs the guys provided commentary about their journey and an insight into their lives.
Keith detailed the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding Stephen being pushed to come out by the media and it not being through his own choice, accompanied with a powerful video montage. It was established right from the start that Boyzone would always remain a group of five, despite there only being four of them left on Earth. A heartwarming and emotional performance of ‘Dream’ saw a single beam of light stretch up to the ceiling, representative of fallen band member Stephen Gately’s ‘Steo’s’ never-ending spirit. At the end of the song the four remaining members; Keith, Ronan, Mikey and Shane embraced around the light beam, with a single orb of light moving up and being ‘released’ by the guys. A sentiment that meant there wasn’t a dry eye in the arena, myself included.
Keith’s storytelling preceded crowd favourite ‘Father and Son’ telling us how his own son was now ‘six foot four and telling him what to do’, taking many parents back down memory lane joking that those were the good days ‘I mean we didn’t have kids’, ‘That’s why we do these gigs to transport ourselves back to the days when we didn’t give a shit and we were happy’.
In true form the cover of Bee Gees hit song ‘Words’ stood the test of time, after its 1996 TV special debut topped the UK charts. Still proving to be popular, with several audience members getting out of their seats and dancing and swaying to the music. Special mention to those attendees who displayed Irish flags, honouring Boyzone’s Irish heritage.
If there was one song I was most excited for it was ‘Nothing at all’ and the men sure did not disappoint me, absolutely smashing it out, with the crowd singing in unison ‘you say it best, when you say nothing at all’
A powerful moment of the night was the crowd singing the chorus of ‘A different Beat’ with calls of ‘hey, yeah oh’ echoing through the arena and the entire audience beating their chests in unison, replicating Boyzone’s moves, I’ll admit even I joined in on this one. Goosebumps all round. Prematurely leaving their seats at its conclusion many concert goers were caught out when Boyzone returned for an encore, having expected that that was the last song.
The encore saw Boyzone perform ‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘Picture of You’. Rollercoaster was the perfect all encompassing song to describe the night, having been just that, a rollercoaster for the heart. With constant twists and turns of emotions for all involved, from tears to laughter, and everything in between. Making memories was the focus of the night and Boyzone invited a select few audience members to join them onstage for a once in a lifetime photograph. A wonderful sentiment that those select few will never forget I’m sure.
And, as the final chords of ‘Picture of You’ played and the band left the stage for what would be the last time. The crowd made it known that they would be missed, erupting into thunderous applause, a more than deserving accolade of the final performance Boyzone had just delivered. As the stage hands began packing down the stage ready for its transport to Sydney and there was a constant stream of concert goers exiting the arena, I took a moment to reflect on what I had just been a part of, a farewell tour deserving of exactly that, a beautiful and final farewell. Thankyou to One World Entertainment for bringing Boyzone to Australia for both the first and last time, for a night Melbourne will never forget. Boyzone, Thank you and Goodnight.
SETLIST – Boyzone
Who We Are
Love is a Hurricane
Isn’t it a Wonder
Coming Home Now
Baby Can I Hold You
You Needed Me
All That I Need
I Love the Way You Love Me
Father & Son
Everyday I Love You
Key to My Life
Talk About Love
Love You Anyway
Nothing At All
Love Me For a Reason
No Matter What
Going Gets Tough
Picture of You