Westlife performing The Twenty Tour at The FlyDSA Arena Sheffield on Friday 7th June 2019

Images and review by Kevin Cooper

In July 1998, five youngsters from Sligo Ireland got together to form a boy band, and the rest, as they say is history. Twenty years later and after a seven year hiatus, Westlife are back minus Brian McFadden who left in 2005.

Last night saw a packed FlyDSA Arena, scream and sing their way through a near two hour set in which Westlife revisited a selection of their fourteen number one hits, delivered a couple of new songs and entertained with a medley of Queen classics.

With a huge stage devoid of backing singers and dancers, with just a discreet but very tight band in darkness at either side, the night started with images of the group displayed on a gigantic, eye searing screen which broke into two to reveal a platform on which Shane Filan, Nicky Bryne, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily emerged beaming for new song Hello My Love which saw the first of many confetti bursts of the evening.

Dressed in military style outfits personalised with Thunderbird type coloured sashes, the platform lowered to allow the quartet to step onto the stage for their debut number one single, Swear It Again which saw the crowd singing along and swaying in true Westlife style. And as Egan promised to take the crowd “through twenty years of Westlife”, they did not disappoint with What About Now and the lovely My Love.

Looking incredibly comfortable and having lost none of their on stage chemistry, they followed up with the energetic When You’re Looking Like That which saw red neon circled microphones descend from the roof which they swung out into the audience and as the flames burst into the air, they disappeared from the stage.

To enable a costume change there was a video montage on the big screen which saw them in a Thunderbirds meets James Bond style cartoon and when they returned it was for Uptown Girl, the lovely Mandy, and new song, Better Man. Even Feehily’s broken microphone pack did not distract from an excellent performance of Michael Buble’s Home.

With a lot of synchronised hip thrusts, bum wiggles and finger pointing which went down a treat with the screaming crowd, they reappeared on stage for an unexpected Queen medley which included Another One Bites The Dust, Radio Gaga, I Want To Break Free and the mass sing along song, We Are The Champions, before they disappeared off stage again in spectacular fashion.

Famous for perfecting the art of getting off their stools during a triumphant key change, it would not have been a Westlife concert if the stools had not made an appearance, and the crowd were not disappointed as they were reserved for the penultimate segment of the show for the smoochy anthem Unbreakable, and the popular ballads Fool Again and Queen Of My Heart.

It was great to see What Makes A Man, the song criminally beaten to the Christmas number one spot by Bob The Builder back in 2000, given an airing before the main set was brought to a close with another breathtaking moment in a stellar set, as the Arena was bathed in mobile phone torches for You Raise Me Up.

For the encore there was the ever popular and emotional Flying Without Wings, which induced extreme goose bumps as Feehily’s voice soared around the Arena before they brought the evening to an end with World Of Our Own.

With Boyzone calling it a day later this year, the boy band’s crown will be vacant. And on this performance there is only one band in the running for it, undoubtedly beating Take That to second place.