'The four of us, five of us, thank you' - Boyzone bid emotional farewell at last ever Irish gig
Boyzone bid a rousing but emotional farewell to fans at their last ever Irish concert at Dublin’s 3Arena tonight.
Kicking off with a throwback video to their first nationwide tour in the early 90s, and traversing a quarter of a century worth of hits across the evening, it was a night of nostalgia tinged with sadness for Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy, and Shane Lynch, and their fans.
Four songs in, Ronan thanked those fans for sticking with them for 25 years.
"The four of us, the five of us, want to thank you," he said, referencing their former band member Stephen Gately who passed away in 2009.
"In 1993 we were babies we were kids, we didn’t know our arse from our elbow and we got on that green beautiful green bird and we flew to London and all hell broke loose and we never saw it coming nobody did. We've lived the dream," he added.
"They say you'll never work a day in your life if you're doing the job you love and we have never worked a day in our lives thanks to you guys. Thanks so much.
“We've only begun this tour, we've a long road ahead of us, but tonight feels like the climax of something really big in our lives. It's really special. It's going to be emotional. I'm trying to get through this.”
Ronan’s speech set the tone for the evening as the foursome took to the stage for the last time in Dublin as part of their Thank You & Goodnight farewell tour.
For those who have followed Boyzone from their humble beginnings on The Late Late Show, through six studio albums, two dozen hits, solo careers, and the tragic loss of Stephen Gately, the night was a fitting book-end to what has been a hugely successful career.
The 3Arena was packed to capacity, an unusual feat for even the biggest international acts these days, but fans were eager to catch the guys live on stage together for the very last time, in their hometown.
The audience, who gave the foursome a rapturous welcome when they were first lowered from the ceiling, decked out in head to toe black and diamantes, was, in the main, a mix of those original twenty, thirty and forty-something fans and a younger generation who seemed just as beguiled by the lads’ easy-listening repertoire of ballads and upbeat pop.
Early on Keith Duffy promised they would play songs they hadn’t played in 20 years, before launching into Coming Home Now from 1995.
Speaking to Independent,ie ahead of the concert, Aisling Quinn, Lisa Richards-Scully from Balbriggan, and their friend Anne Carroll from Swords revealed they have all been fans since the early 90s.
“My first concert and my first CD were Boyzone,” Aisling said. “We’ve seen them every time they play Dublin, even when I was nine months pregnant. Lisa said to me, ‘If you go into labour we’re not going to the Rotunda! You’re going on your own!’”
The women said they were “in denial” about the group calling it a day for good but Aisling added, “We’ll still rock out the CDs and put the t-shirts on.”
Gemma O’Dea and her five friends from Bray have also followed Boyzone since the beginning when they signed to Polydor in 1994.
“We’re sad and happy,” they said about the group’s final Dublin show. “We’ve seen them every night they were here. We used to queue up for tickets in Bray outside Golden Discs and when they played five nights in a row we’d go to see them five nights in a row.”
Such was their dedication they even “went to their houses a few times” but never managed to meet them in person.
“They say it’s the last concert but we still have hope they’ll be back,” said Gemma.
Sandra Farrelly (26) and Rachel Carry (27) from Kells, Co Meath, have been fans since early childhood but last night was their first Boyzone concert.
“I suppose we came because it is the last one,” said Rachel. “We were big fans when we were kids and we bought all the albums.”
Boyzone have waved goodbye before, when they originally split in 1999 after just six years together, but they came back with a bang in 2007. This time, however, it is “definitely the end” for Boyzone, or so Mikey Graham told press this week.
As such, the concert was tinged with a sense of sadness, and made all the more poignant with a tribute to Gately, who died in 2009 at his home in Majorca from an undiagnosed heart condition.
However, their former bandmate was very much a part of what was a very special gig as his vocals appear on the band’s latest single, ‘Dream’ which they performed during the show. Recording it, they said recently, was a “bittersweet experience”.
That’s exactly how fans would likely describe their 3Arena concert on Thursday night.
From the opening ‘Who We Are’ to ‘Father & Son’, ‘Words’, and ‘Love Me For a Reason’ to the closing ‘Picture of You’, and paying tribute to Stephen Gately with ‘Dream’, the night encompassed everything the fans wanted, and everything a farewell concert should be.