Gig Review: Westlife, M&S Bank Arena

Westlife

I wish I knew the exact age I was when I went to my first Westlife concert, but I can tell you that I was very young and was made to go to at least 12 more Westlife concerts afterwards.

It seemed that every Christmas, Santa would have Westlife tickets for me without fail, coupled with posters, CDs, the works. My mum was secretly the biggest fan but made me tag along to every concert just like my aunts and most of the other people in the crowds.

I think everyone around my age that grew up in Ireland, grew up with Westlife. We weren’t big fans of Take That, the Spice Girls or Boyzone – Westlife I guess is what One Direction is for me. Just the right age at the right time.

I do try to pass it off that I’m not a fan of Westlife now that I’m in my twenties. I mean, gimmicky pop music, dance moves and songs they don’t even write themselves? However, I can’t deny that I know every word of every song. They’re imprinted in my brain. So when it was announced that Westlife were having their final farewell tour, I happily obliged to go to Croke Park. Little did I expect to start crying two songs in.

So obviously, a few years later, the money has started to dry up and now Westlife are back with new music and a new tour celebrating 20 years of Bop Bop Baby. And again, I was made to accompany my mother at one of their tour dates.

Liverpool’s music scene

Now you would think with Liverpool being the birthplace of The Beatles, having Parr Street Studios (where Justin Bieber himself recorded) and venues like the Philharmonic that Liverpool would be inundated with concerts and shows. Well, actually, no.

One thing I just really don’t get about Liverpool is that no one wants to perform here. I don’t know if it’s because we’re pretty close to Manchester and that two concerts so close to each other wouldn’t be feasible, but hardly anyone comes to perform in Liverpool.

We have so many great concert venues, whether it’s the Echo/M&S Bank Arena or the O2 for smaller gigs, and about ten other venues in between, I just can’t understand why no one puts on shows in Liverpool. Especially the likes of Picture This, Kodaline and other Irish acts since the vast majority of people that live in this city are Irish.

Even Lewis Capaldi didn’t include Liverpool on his UK tour, or Niall Horan, or Harry Styles or Shawn Mendes. However, Radio One are recording a show with Lewis Capaldi here in a few weeks, at Croxteth Hall Park of all places. Yes, I got tickets, don’t worry.

Even though not many people choose to come to Liverpool, Westlife clearly knew the demographic of the city and put on two sold-out shows at the M&S Bank Arena.

The Verdict

I can’t really believe I’m saying this but I really think that concert may have been the best Westlife concert I’ve ever been to. It was extremely nostalgic, they played hit after hit and the staging and lighting just seemed to be the best I’ve ever seen from Westlife.

There was a lot of choreographed dance moves, full white outfits and the stools even made an appearance. But Westlife haven’t lost their voices, their charm or their humility.

One thing I used to love about the Westlife concerts was their little videos in between changing, when each boy would be on the screen talking about the band, their personal life or history of the band. It was something Westlife always used to do at their concerts and they brought it back on this tour.

Even though it does pain me a little to say it (I have my street-cred to think about), I sang along to every song and had a great, great night. Credit where credit’s due. It’s just unfortunate that there were more Evertonians in the crowd when Nicky started to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone… which went down like a lead balloon.

I would like to say that the concert is my 15th and final Westlife concert but, I think that’s quite unlikely.

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