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by Siobhán McMahon
Following a sell out UK tour, Ireland's finest came home to what would possibly be their most spectacular show ever, the pinnacle of their five year career and I was there with approximately 30,000 like-minded fans to share it with them. The RDS, a large open-air venue, one of the most highly regarded in Ireland, opened its gates at five in the afternoon, and before long, thousands of fans flocked in to the arena.
The stage was an unusual design, a kind of modern, futuristic style mainly silver and black. There were three support acts: Dove (an Irish group that, I reckon, you'll hear of pretty soon), Next Of Kin and Westlife. Dove really kicked off the show in style with their unique style of R&B/Pop. However the same can not be said of Next Of Kin who, I think, stayed on stage a little too long for everybody's liking. Westlife were warmly received as Boyzone's protégés and set the scene perfectly for the Boyz to take the stage!
Soon after Westlife left the stage, five guys with massive Boyzone fake heads came on and danced with the crowd to "YMCA" but, from an early stage, a silver box hanging from the top of the set had aroused everybody's curiosity. Shortly after the "YMCA" piece, the box began to spin and was slowly lowered on to the stage, while we all screamed our heads off, letting the rest of Dublin know that Boyzone were about to appear.
Two cheeky heads popped up and then disappeared. Ronan climbed out of the box, followed by the rest of the Boyz, and they launched into "When The Going Gets Tough", which got the crowd on their feet, the arms in the air and all of us started singing along. As with previous shows, they started with the up-tempos to set the atmosphere, this time around choosing "Picture Of You" and "One Kiss At A Time" to follow up the Billy Ocean cover.
Steve, as usual, took the stage to perform a solo song, "Where Did You Go", from their multi-platinum "Where We Belong" album. Mikey sang a beautiful self-penned song from the B-side of "You Needed Me" while playing guitar. In fact all of the guys did a solo piece except for Shane.
The highlight of the show for me came about halfway into the concert, where the guys did a game show. They invited three fans on stage to spin a wheel and whatever song the wheel landed on, Boyzone performed. One of these was "Love Me For A Reason" and I was pleasantly surprised at the reworking of their debut single.
Shane also gave us something to talk about at this stage in the concert, by asking for a round of applause for the three lucky girls with his hands up in the air, and by lowering his arms successfully silenced all 30,000 screaming fans. Apparently pleased with his effect on the crowd, he carried on for a few minutes like a remote control switching the crowd on and off.
Another talking point was Keiths solo, "Where have You Been", during which he dropped his pants and ran around on stage in a pair of boxer shorts, which bore the colours of the Irish flag. They sang "Father And Son" and the crowd came alive and pretty much sang it for them. Ronan treated us to his song from the "Notting Hill" soundtrack and, of course, they sang the song which could be regarded as their anthem, "A Different Beat".
The encore consisted of "No matter What", "I Love The Way You Love Me" and Ronan told us how much the Bee Gees love their version of "Words", before they sang it. They left the stage the way they arrived, in their silver box, with the band playing "When The Going Gets Tough", leaving behind them a crowd that deafened the area with their screams of appreciation.
Having been to previous Boyzone concerts, I can honestly say that it was the most amazing show they have ever put on. They sang all the hits, more than Ive mentioned, such as "Baby Can I Hold You" and "Melting Pot". The atmosphere was electric, the set spectacular and the guys sounded and looked great!
The bad news is that they probably wont do a show that big again but the good news is that the concert will be released on video. If anybody has ever said that Boyzone cant kick it live, that show proved them wrong! As one newspaper headline the following morning said, "30,000 fans cant all be wrong!"
Pictures taken from the official pages for "Live By Request" tour (NEC, Birmingham)