Westlife

Hot stuff in fab four effect in Páirc Uí Chaoimh

It was a steamy evening in Cork as Westlife took the stage for their first Páirc Uí Chaoimh concert in their 24 year history.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh was filled with dedicated fans ready to brave the heat to see their beloved quartet sing hit after hit. From Cork city center to the marina, there was a hen party feeling in the air as thousands of people made their way to the venue. Light, flowy dresses and denim shorts were the style of choice, with many bands wearing custom matching t-shirts. Friday night was party time in the city and we were ready to dance in the sun.

Cassie McGrath and Leah Maye of Carrick-on-Suir at the Westlife concert in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Photo: Eddie O’Hare

Emeli Sandé and Wild Youth entertained the stadium as warm-ups, taking the stage at 6.30pm and 7.30pm respectively, before Westlife kicked off the night at 9pm with ‘Starlight’ from their 2021 album wild dreams, later going back the years with some of their most beloved tracks. There was a much-welcomed shade from the setting sun for performers and those in the western half of the stadium when a monochrome-clad Westlife took the stage to a burst of multicolored confetti.

“You are welcome to the Westlife Wild Dreams Tour 2022. Are you ready to have fun, Cork?” asked Marc Feehily. Westlife, more than two decades later, is unabashedly a stereotypical boy band. “Who wants a key change?” Feehily joked during “Fool Again”.

Often described as a cover band in their formative years, Westlife proved they knew a thing or two about reworking other people’s classic hits and working an audience. “Uptown girls in the house?” they said before the crowd was treated to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” An energetic remix of some classic Abba hits was also a huge hit with the screaming, dancing crowd.

  Westlife on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork.  Image;  Eddie O'Hare
Westlife on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Image; Eddie O’Hare

Throughout the night, the four men captivated the audience and transitioned seamlessly from upbeat optimism to 90s nostalgia. Their perfectly choreographed walking, dancing, clapping and swaying moves were reminiscent of their first music videos. Many of the participants were at school when Westlife rose to fame, becoming Ireland’s most successful boy band, and a walk down memory lane was clearly enjoyed by them. Shots executed included queen of my heart,
When you look like this and Fly without wings.

Maria Smyth with her daughter Kate McCaul and her friend Joanna O'Shea at the Westlife concert.  Photo: Eddie O’Hare
Maria Smyth with her daughter Kate McCaul and her friend Joanna O’Shea at the Westlife concert. Photo: Eddie O’Hare

It was an emotionally charged two hours as for much of the audience the concert was their first concert since before the pandemic. Indeed, tickets for The Wild Dreams Tour, originally called the Summer Tour Stages, originally went on sale in September 2019 and concerts have been rescheduled for 2020 and 2021.

It was a reality recognized from the stage by Filan. “Honestly, guys, we’ve been waiting to do this show for a very long time, as you well know. It’s so good to be here. It’s so good to see everyone back together, smiling, some people crying.

Westlife's Cian Egan on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork.  Image;  Eddie O'Hare
Westlife’s Cian Egan on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Image; Eddie O’Hare

He said they were grateful “to be in Cork, in this huge stadium. It’s going to be a great show, we promise you. We’re going to have a lot of songs to sing, a lot of memories.

Westlife’s Wild Dreams Tour continues Saturday from 6:30 p.m. in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.