Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Great Show! Review of Westlife's Concert 8th September 2006 - Singapore Indoor Stadium

This entry comes a little late ( considering my propensity to blog immediately after concerts ), but I make it a point to stick to the "gold standard", i.e. at least post a review before the papers do, 'cos I get no kick from reading those ( too short, a tad critical, with only 1 mediocre photo caption ).

So here's my version, but NOT recommended for non-Westlife fans, so proceed at your own peril.


Lead singer Shane Filan said it himself: It's been 5 years since their last visit to Singapore.

But they're thrilled to be back, and judging from their delighted laughs and grins upon being greeted by wild squeals from a capacity audience ( estimated 6,000-plus ), these Irish lads still have "it". LOADS of it. :)

The show started at 8:30pm, with their trademark piece Flying Without Wings ( which American Idol Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard covered during the finals ). Dressed in white outfits, the guys were lean and stylish, delivering pitch-perfect vocals and polished choreography with relaxed ease.

For the next hour, the hits came fast and furious, ranging from more recent songs ( Hit You With The Real Thing, Colour Your World, Amazing, She's Back, You Raise Me Up - from their latest Face To Face album ), to older fare ( perennial faves Swear It Again, Mandy, Seasons In The Sun, Queen Of My Heart, When You're Looking Like That, Hey Whatever, Uptown Girl ).

From the word go, people were up on their feet, screaming and cheering their hearts out. Those in the first few rows stormed the barricades and had to be told repeatedly to return to their seats. However, those with first-row tickets were allowed to stand in prime spots just 6 feet from the stage, with unobstructed views for superb photo-taking opportunities.

And I was one of them, baby! ( Hence these be-ooo-tiful shots I've uploaded for your viewing pleasure. :))

Highlights Of The Evening

1. Uptown Girl

In contrast to the fast pop version we're used to, the boys did a cool swing cover last night, complete with top hats, tailcoats and canes.

2. Billie Jean

Believe it or not, Westlife channeled MJ quite competently during this surprisingly good bit. If you think it's cheesy, you're obviously not a fan, so TOUGH!

3. The Hip Hop Medley

The good thing about the lads having aged 5 years is how they've matured and become lots more comfortable in their own skin. Sure, they've always been accomplished performers, but even when they did medleys in the past, they involved "safe" material like oldies and famous pop songs, etc.

But last night -- wooohoooo -- they did ( take a deep breath ) THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS' DONCHA, ROBERT PALMER'S ADDICTED TO LOVE ( which you may have heard Jonathan Leong cover during this week's Singapore Idol ), and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE'S SENORITA.

And they were EXCELLENT! Even I didn't see that coming!

The dancing was top-notch, the singing very credible, the energy pumping.

And boy are they sexy *fanning myself as I write this* :D

4. Up Close And Personal - Part 1

Standing so close to the stage afforded great opportunities for observing their body language. By all accounts, it was evident that the guys were having tonnes of fun up there, and demonstrated lots of enthusiasm with their antics. They came right up to the edge, gamely waving at us and bestowing gorgeous smiles as we aimed our cameras. They put everything they had into those dance moves, even head-banging and hip-thrusting at one point ( mostly handled by lone single heterosexual Kian ). They hardly broke a sweat, effortlessly singing ballads with nary an audible pant even after just finishing an aerobic workout during the previous number.

And they clearly had the crowd eating out of their hands, from directing the microphones our way during Senorita and Swear It Again, to getting the entire stadium to yell their lungs out during a deafening competition between "those in the back" and "those in front" ( I personally think those in front won :)).

Friendliest of the lot? Hands down - Kian. He couldn't stop laughing and grinning throughout the whole concert, and posed for our pictures the most times.

Crowd favourite? Without a doubt - Shane. This was most obvious on numbers where each guy took turns to sing. Each time Shane took the mike, everyone roared. Even now, he still gets flustered by the adulation. Awwww.... :)

Least friendly? I would say Mark. But it's hard to tell, 'cos he also appeared tired, so maybe he wasn't feeling well to begin with. Still, he's improved significantly since their first gig here about 7 years ago, when he kept going off-key during his solos and made my hair stand on end. He used to be my personal fave, but now that he's revealed he's gay, I've switched to Kian.

Most pleasant surprise? Nicky, of course. Considering his ties to the Irish PM, plus all the fame and fortune Westlife's accumulated over the years, I would've expected him to be a little arrogant or standoffish, but he couldn't be nicer. ( More on this in Part 2 below. )

5. Up Close And Personal - Part 2

Due to a very last-minute twist of fate, my mum and I were granted backstage access to a meet-and-greet with the lads.

But don't get too excited! There were approximately 50 fans in total, and we entered in batches of 10, with only 5 minutes spent in the room before being politely ushered out.

Definitely felt like a factory processing plant, but I understood the time constraints involved, and was already immensely thankful for the chance despite not having won any contests or any insider pals to pester. ( The lady who got us in is a complete stranger, and the Brit who came to fetch us at the entrance - think he's part of Westlife's entourage - was an absolute dear. :))

So what do I recall of the event? The very first person I saw as we entered was Kian. Already prepped for the concert, he had some makeup on and was dressed in a white jacket and pants.

I distinctly caught my breath at the sight. Kian can be described, in a word, as an ADONIS. He is just SOOOO BLONDE, and SOOOO FAIR, and ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLY CAN-DIE-AH GORGEOUS.

Even my mum was taken aback -- Kian's her favourite and she KNOWS he's good-looking, but she wasn't prepared for what she saw in the flesh, up close!

We were at the tail end of the line of 10, and seated at a huge ellipitical table were ( from left to right ) Kian, Nicky, Shane and Mark.

Official photographers stood at the door, while a few other minders lingered on both sides.

We were asked to stand behind the guys for a group shot. My mum and I were both right behind Kian, which we loved, haha. :)
As we positioned ourselves, Nicky ( who, by the way, is married to the Irish Prime Minister's daughter ) leaned back in his swivel chair and turned his head left and right to smile and look at each of us. Thought that was a very nice gesture.

After the picture was taken, Kian turned and said, "If you've got stuff for us to sign, put them over here." So being closest to him, I stepped forward and passed him my items ( 2 CD sleeves ).

I wasn't even certain if there was any time for a short conversation, so I just left it at that and moved over to Mark's side to collect the autographs once they were done. As I took them from Mark, I smiled and whispered "thank you", to which he returned with a smile.

Just before I left the room, I asked if I could take a photo of the fellows and was granted permission.

But I won't be posting that on the blog. Private property, and I feel a bit possessive about it! :)

Enjoy the pictures!

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