Review: Ronan Keating
Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin
ON the face of it, Ronan Keating's first hometown show of the year could hardly be more upbeat. The pop songs are brash and lively, the giant video backdrop is unrelenting in its cheeriness and Keating's interaction with the audience is playful.
For the first 20 minutes, Keating runs the risk of bludgeoning us with his jollity, which seems forced, and the uniform nature of the songs has followers averting their eyes from the stage and taking in the striking surrounds of this new venue.
But it soon becomes apparent there's real sadness lurking beneath the surface and the gig loses its feel when he talks of his mother, Marie, whom he lost to breast cancer 12 years ago, and, more recently, the tragic death of Stephen Gately.
He honours Marie's memory by performing songs she had sung to him as a child, including Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time'.
But he is far more successful when paying tribute to "my brother Steo", with a rendition of The Blue Nile song, 'Happiness', after which Ronan wipes away the tears.
Over the course of a 20-song set, Keating is keen to give the fans all the hits. 'When You Say Nothing At All', which he devotes to his wife Yvonne, is solid, but 'Loving Each Day' sounds tired. A vibrant 'Life Is A Rollercoaster' coaxes most of the crowd to their feet, but it is closer 'The Long Goodbye' which is the best-realised song of all. Keating sings it like he means it.