HELLO My Love.
And, with that, the great Malaysian-Irish love affair between Westlife and their fans, was rekindled. It was like meeting up with an ex again – almost a decade down the road.
You wonder if they still look as good, whether they still care and if this time, they’re here to stay.
From last night’s (Aug 8) concert at the Malawati Indoor Stadium, Shah Alam, it looks like they’re swearing it all over again.
The boyband – OK, maybe it’s time to drop ‘boy’ – proved that they’re still relevant, years after the 2011 split.
Launching into Hello My Love, not to be confused with their worldwide hit My Love, Nicky Byrne, 40, Shane Filan, 40, Kian Egan, 39 and Mark Feehily, 39, made good on their promise last year to tour the globe and return with a new album.
The Twenty Tour (they got together in 1998 so yeah, it’s been that long), which kicked off in May with multiple dates in Britain and Ireland, saw the proteges of Boyzone’s Ronan Keating jetting over to South-East Asia for performances in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Not to be kiasu, but yes, they’re only spending one night with our neighbours down south. Meanwhile, 14,000 tickets for the two-night concert here were snapped up in less than 48 hours when it went on sale in April.
A day before the band was set to perform in KL, a youth was charged in court with 45 counts of cheating, involving 715 fake Westlife concert tickets. The tickets were worth a whopping RM151,956.
And if that’s not proof enough how much these guys are loved, fans were still spotted approaching scalpers at the venue on the day of the concert itself.
The tour heralds the group’s 11-track album due for release on Nov 8.
Besides the opening number, fans got a taste of what the upcoming album, Spectrum, is going to sound like when the group showcased Better Man – no, not a cover of Robbie Williams song – and Dynamite. Ed Sheeran who’s written six tracks for the album, is also co-producing Spectrum.
While Dynamite’s EDM (Electronic Dance Music) influence is refreshing, Better Man has all the classic markings of a Westlife hit – catchy, warm and fuzzy.
The three new tracks were well received but the crowd was obviously here for chart-toppers like If I Let You Go, Uptown Girl, I Have A Dream, Queen Of My Heart, When You’re Looking Like That, You Raise Me Up, Unbreakable and the band’s signature tune, Flying Without Wings.
They didn’t disappoint. Performing 16 of their best-loved hits, covers and a medley tribute to Queen, Britain’s top-selling album group of the 21st century reminded us why we fell in love with them in the first place.
Before getting back together, Filan worked on his own albums, Feehily launched a solo career, Egan ventured into television, and Byrne – who looks to have aged better than fine wine – went on to host his own radio show.
Unlike many boybands of their time, these guys are proof that you can’t sustain a career on good looks alone. Having sold over 55 million records worldwide, the only band to have its first seven singles enter the British chart at No. 1, really can sing.
Yes, there were the obligatory “it’s good to be back” and “we love you Malaysia” banter but we definitely felt the love. A short acoustic set saw them taking wefies, and cajoling fans to sing some of the lesser-known songs and big hits like Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) – which of course, they pointed out, was a “good song, but wrong band”.
And when we got to Fool Again, fans were challenged to sing the song’s instantly recognisable line – “You neeeeeever told me”.
We were complimented for being able to hold our breaths the longest, compared to the other venues they played at. Guess the guys aren’t familiar with our Chinese dinner “Yam Seng” toast training. Of course we’d win!
Like a thoroughly enjoyable karaoke session, the Westlife concert was all about songs you grew up with. But judging from the crowd that ranged from teens to grandparents, Malaysia and Westlife really do live in a World Of Our Own.