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Review: Westlife

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Westlife in concert at the O2 in Dublin

Westlife in concert at the O2 in Dublin

Westlife in concert at the O2 in Dublin

WHAT do Westlife, Status Quo, Rod Stewart and Peter Andre have in common? No, this isn't some kind of surreal situationist joke, as this disparate four are officially the hardest-working acts of 2010.

Indeed, surrealism isn't a concept one would readily associate with Ireland's hardest-working and most successful boy band, but it directly informs the opening of their current 'Gravity' show.

The fab four descend on to the stage looking dapper in trench coats and bowler hats, while Renee Magritte's iconic images of businessmen, umbrellas and apples take over the big screens.

Westlife haven't gone all avant-garde or prog-rock on us, they're just raising the showmanship bar for grown-up boy-band performance.

The opening whammy of 'No One's Gonna Sleep Tonight', 'Looking Like That', 'World of Our Own' and 'What Makes a Man' immediately has the capacity crowd nestled in the palms of their hands.

After the opening four numbers, a costume and stage change switches the theme from Belgian surrealism to contemporary smart casual -- as they perform 'Safe' an elephant swims across the big screen. Multi-coloured fish and balloons are all incorporated into the stage show to make a very slick and entertaining live spectacle.

They even let off a few fireworks and flame canons for a rendition of Coldplay's 'Viva la Vida' in a covers medley that also includes Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance' and 'I Predict a Riot' by the Kaiser Chiefs.

Just when you're beginning to think that the show couldn't possibly get any more flamboyant, they pull off another bizarre arty stunt. Charles C Ebbets's 'Lunch Across a Skyscraper' is one of the most famous photographs of all time, immortalising a group of builders sitting on a girder over Manhattan. Westlife sit on a stage girder of their own, which rises up above the front rows of the O2 crowd. Delirious fans nearly faint as they're in spitting distance of their idols.

Say what you like about Westlife, 'Gravity' is a great show that will surprise and confound their detractors.

Nicky, Kian, Mark and Shane mightn't be fresh-faced angels any more, but they've graduated into a mature boy band fully embracing their role as exceptional entertainers extraordinaire.

Irish Independent