By Cecille Santillan Visto
Boyzone Thank You & Goodnight
Farewell Tour: Live in Manila
SM MOA Arena
FANS OF 1990s boy bands died a little inside when Boyzone finally said goodbye after more than 25 years of performing and touring. But the group was not about to go out without a bang and delivered what was arguably a fitting finale show where they sang all their greatest hits, leading the entire SM Mall of Asia Arena to reminisce on the period that was.
It was safe to assume that most people in the audience had been longtime followers of Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, and Shane Lynch. Many appeared to be past their 40s, with some especially abled fans in wheelchairs making the extra effort to go to the venue to watch the phenomenal Irish group one last time.
The entire production was comparatively sparse but the quartet did not need an extravagant stage and the usual pyrotechnics. Boyzone has not been known for its flamboyance and for the finale, they chose to keep it straight and simple. All Access Productions set up one huge LED screen and wooden stage stairs where the boys stood and/or sat in some numbers. However, this writer felt that the lone lady backup singer gyrating on stage right was unnecessary.
Boyzone last held a concert in Manila in 2015 and the group managed to fill the Smart Araneta Coliseum. It was such a memorable show that Boyzone did not think twice to include the Philippines as a stop in their final world tour.
Brian McFadden, formerly of Westlife, was the show’s front act. He performed around six songs, including “My Love” and “Uptown Girl.” In between songs, he told the audience that Westlife owed Boyzone for allowing them to open some of their biggest concerts in Dublin. Though he was witty and entertaining, it was when Boyzone finally appeared on stage that the crowd came to life.
It was a night of nostalgia as Boyzone included classics such as “Isn’t It A Wonder,” “Every Day I Love You,” “When You Say Nothing At All,” and “No Matter What” in the 22-song set list. They were relaxed the whole time, the result of more than two decades of togetherness. Even their dance steps — them in their Dad bods — looked unrehearsed but smooth. Their mission, as they explained at the start of the concert, was to perform all the songs that the audience wants to hear, and more.
As a take-home gift, they sang “Picture of You,” and by then, it was not unusual to see some fans shedding tears. Mr. Keating’s “Life Is A Rollercoaster” was also part of the encore.
Known for putting their own touch on famous covers, Boyzone also performed Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You,” “You Needed Me” by Anne Murray, and John Michael Montgomery’s “I Love the Way You Love Me.”
Mr. Keating has not lost his touch after all these years, leading the group perfectly in Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son,” which, incidentally, was his prepared piece when he auditioned for Boyzone in Dublin in 1993. His own take on the Bee Gees’ “Words” made the crowd wish that it was not the last time that they would hear the 42-year-old sing the song live.
The other covers included “Love Me For A Reason” by The Osmonds as well as Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough.”
“A Different Beat” still sent shivers through the audience, with the members leading that symbolic hand waving in the chorus. Boyzone may have hung their jerseys, but their pieces — including “A Different Beat” — will go down as among the iconic songs of the ’90s.
As expected, there was a tribute to Stephen Gately, the Boyzone member who passed away in 2009. Although there was also a similar tribute in 2015 Manila concert, it was more extensive this time around. Boyzone said there was never a concert anywhere in the world that they did not include Mr. Gately and the finale was no exception.
The drawing of the curtains on Boyzone signaled the end of 1990s boyband era. Boyzone thankfully said their proper goodbyes to their Filipino fans. It was very good while the 25-year run lasted. And there were a lot of memories that they left for their supporters to savor in the years to come.