As the former RTÉ 2FM presenter pointed out the flags he could see from around the world, a personalized Irish flag caught his eye.
“Being on stage here in Cork and seeing so many faces from all over the world… We have flags here from Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany. We saw Israel, Belgium and of course the Irish flags flying high tonight,” he said to growing cheers.
A flag of a Bridget Byrne of Carrigmacross, Co. Monaghan was passed from the crowd to the stage, with an image of Byrne on it – much to her dismay.
“The only problem is, when you google me, it’s one of the pictures I absolutely hate!” He jokingly asked Bridget to “change that for me” before adding that it would be “one way to lose a fan”. Instead, he walked away with the tricolor, promising to “fly that high later.”
Speaking on stage during a Friday night debut, Kian Egan described how important the tour and their shows in Cork are to the band. He revealed that not only were all of their families present, but also that their manager, Louis Walsh, had come to Cork to see them play.
Nicky Byrne also paid tribute to their families on the show. “Most of them, if not all of them, are here tonight… All of the boys’ wives, partners and families are here tonight.”
Westlife members have been staying in Cork since Thursday and enjoying some of the county’s most popular activities. Shane Filan spent time at Fota Wildlife Park on Thursday with his wife, Gillian. Sharing a photo of the couple feeding a giraffe at the popular attraction, he thanked tour guide Willie for “a beautiful day in sunny Cork”.
Like most boy bands of the 90s, Westlife’s early music videos and concerts featured extremely choreographed routines and the boys clearly remembered their dance lessons. Every song featured thoughtful steps, whether dancing, walking, or just clapping – it was all done in perfect unison.
They also had book-accurate choreography as they marched to an interlude of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies during World Of Our Own, much to the delight of the crowd, and their moves during their spectacular Abba mashup were equally flawless.
It was a masterclass in boyband moves.
Friday night the lights were certainly dim. What was undoubtedly the funniest part of the show was their tribute to Abba. The four men danced and danced through Mamma Mia, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Super Trouper, Money Money Money, Take a Chance on Me, I Have A Dream and Waterloo before wrapping up the segment with Thank You For The Music.
If they tire of their own back catalog, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Friday night that Westlife could have a successful career as an Abba tribute band. Last night they made sure everyone in the stadium felt like a dancing queen.
Westlife have been part of our pop culture since 1998 and in that time they never played a major gig in Cork, until this weekend. Mark Feehily told the crowd they were worth the wait.
“Everyone knows we’ve been waiting for this concert for a long time and you didn’t disappoint tonight. Cork, thank you so much for being a wonderful crowd, for making us feel so welcome. They even claim the crowd in Cork was louder than once its size in London last week.
“It’s an absolute pleasure for us to be in Cork and to play at this stadium,” said Kian Egan. “We never thought it would take us this long to get here, but it was worth the wait. We were at Wembley Stadium last week and I think you guys are louder here.