After a three-year wait since purchasing the tickets, and a two-year wait due to postponed concerts thanks to COVID-19, last Friday Westlife hit Pairc Uí Chaoimh from Cork as part of their extended The Wild tour Dreams.
I am probably one of the few people in Ireland who, before Friday, had not yet seen the prodigies of Louis Walsh in concert, and both the two-year wait due to cancellations and the 23-year d he wait to finally be part of the club that saw Westlife, was worth it, because they blew the imaginary roof of Pairc Uí Chaoimh.
I’m by no means a die-hard Westlife fan – that’s obvious as it took me so long to see the band, but in 2019 when the two nights at Pairc Uí Chaoimh in Cork were announced for August 2020, I thought I knew a lot of their songs, without even realizing it, so why not check it out. In particular, being a Cork woman myself and having the gig in my neighborhood.
Cork was electric on Friday, and Westlife fans came out in their thousands to brave the heatwave to see the quartet that’s been around since 1998 – longer than me! The atmosphere and buzz was infectious, with pubs around town even going so far as to have life-size cardboard cutouts of the boys ahead of their first night in Cork. We panicked that we wouldn’t know how to get from the city center to Pairc Uí Chaoimh, but we had absolutely nothing to worry about – Google Maps was quickly pushed aside when a steady stream of onlookers passed through town to Pairc Uí Chaoimh.
We can justify by Westlife has a little something for everyone – as people of everything ages were in attendance, with the style of the night appearing to be summery dresses or custom made Westlife shirts!
Luckily the weather cooled off in the evening, although it was still beautiful – a fabulous day and evening to go to a gig!
Irish boy band Wild Youth and Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé were supporting roles for Shane, Nicky, Kian and Mark. They started the party and took the stage at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. respectively.
Westlife took the stage shortly after 9pm, opening with probably my favorite of their new songs, Starlight from their album Wild Dreams, released last year. The boys were introduced by way of four cannons that blew multicolored smoke and pyrotechnics. Shane led his three bandmates in the first song, which had the crowd instantly singing and dancing.
As the four came to the end of the T-shaped scene, they threw it back a bit to their more classic anthems. Shane asks the 40,000 “singing” fans if there are any inner city girls in the house, before the four, dressed all in cow print (which I personally thought they actually pulled off) start to singing the opener ‘Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh,’ to their infamous cover of Billy Joel of Uptown Girls, with the crowd joining them by the song’s second line, and Mark Feehily harmonizing.
They followed that up with the 2000 hitmaker, When You’re Looking Like That, which put on an incredible fire show and had both the four on stage and the 40,000 spread out on the court. and the seating area jumped in time, as they shouted, “Am I supposed to leave you now?? When you look like this!”
Shortly after, and after a quick change into all black with silver vests, the four were greeted on stage with a rainbow of flashing lights and the boys channeled their inner Donna Sheridan, as the measures d opening of ABBA’s Mamma Mia were playing.
The group of four got mixed reviews for their Westlife x ABBA crossover last month when they played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, but I really enjoyed it, and looking at my surroundings I think everyone l ‘did. This is something you need to embrace! Definitely my favorite crossover. I think it was also a very smart decision – one of the biggest boy bands in the world covering some songs from one of the biggest bands in the world?
People say Westlife is a glorified cover band, but I think they pull it off. ABBA’s tribute had everyone on their feet – even in the seated stands – dancing to their heart’s content. It was very pure and healthy, I think.
Westlife concluded their ABBA melody with a rendition of Dancing Queen, which had everyone harmonizing the opening “Ahhs”.
Another outfit change saw the four change into different colored suits – Shane sported a gray one piece; Nicky opted for blue; Mark pulled off a salmon suit and Kian opted for black.
Another partial crossover was on the way as the four strutted through the middle of World of Our Own, to the music of Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love. In unison, the four strutted along the stage, almost mimicking being on the floor. Fans squealed as the four turned their backs on the crowd and wiggled their asses a bit, before turning their heads towards the crowd, then continuing to dance and strut their stuff.
The music from the Crazy in Love choir synced beautifully with the World of Our Own choir, which had everyone with their hands in their own applause and imitating the four on stage, singing along with everyone.
The encore included two final songs – Hello My Love, which again got the crowd going. I think almost all of us thought they weren’t going to sing You Raise Me Up, but they went from the upbeat, happy Hello My love song to a more paired comeback You Raise Me Up, in which everyone waved their phones in the air with their flashlights on.
If I had someone to accompany me on Saturday I really would have been back to Pairc Uí Chaoimh – although I know how to sit literally speechless so maybe I’d better leave it to a night . I’ve always wondered why people would go to someone five or six times, or even more, but now I understand why you would go to a band multiple times – especially a band like Westlife.
They are not only singers, but they are performers. They put on a real show – with fireworks, stunning graphics and light shows, confetti and it doesn’t start on the four themselves, with their multiple outfit changes, high energy and possession of the whole scene. Westlife also has this incredible talent for changing the mood from song to song.