Friday 18 October 2019

'This is the best job in the world' - Westlife return to the stage after seven year hiatus as tour kicks off in Belfast

Westlife’s Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife’s Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife’s Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife’s Kian Egan, Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne and Mark Feehily with Jonathan Ross backstage before performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife’s Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife fans enjoying their comeback reunion at the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Louis Walsh and Jonathan Ross backstage before Westlifes performing at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife’s Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Westlife fans enjoying their comeback reunion at the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019
Louis Walsh before Westlife performing the at SSE Arena, Belfast. Pic:Mark Condren 22.5.2019

Sarah Tulloch and Julia Hunt

Ireland’s favourite boyband were back on their stools as Westlife kicked off their Twenty Tour in Belfast.

Fans young and old dug out their vintage merchandise and memorabilia to welcome Kian Egan, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan back from their seven year hiatus.

Support from Irish-inspired family band The Rua and Nashville native Keelie Walker warmed up the crowd at Belfast's SSE Arena for a night of nostalgia.

Although they’re branding themselves ‘Westlife 2.0’, there’s no doubt that these are the same boys we’ve always known, instantly recognisable by the synchronised hip thrusts, bum wiggles and finger points.

The group could hardly contain their delight as they crowd sang back to them as they opened the show with one of the new tracks, Hello My Love.

"We started coming to Belfast 20 years ago. From day one, the fans up here we’re so passionate, so dedicated and you’ve been with us every step of the way so thank you for that,” said Feehily.

Speaking immediately after the performance, they said: "We genuinely missed each other and missed the buzz of performing on stage together. It is incredible to be back.

"The Belfast crowd were unbelievable.

"We're ecstatic and we loved every minute of it. It was emotional at times too.

"It was amazing to see everyone singing along to our new music and other hits."

Wednesday marked the start of a phenomenal five-night run at the SSE Arena which takes Westlife to a record-breaking total of 65 shows in Belfast.

The band will be on the road with their Twenty Tour throughout June, July and August.

The tour has sold almost 700,000 tickets - a record for the band.

Westlife said: "We're going to give the fans the best tour we have ever done.

"We are giving everyone the best version of ourselves.

"This is the best job in the world."

Among the crowd in Belfast was TV presenter Jonathan Ross who was spotted grinning and bopping along to all the hits.

The visuals for the show are the cherry on top of the bands’ surprising setlist, while the production team behind Las Vegas’ Cirque Du Soleil are responsible for the jaw-dropping pyrotechnics and lighting.

Fans with tickets for the Twenty Tour are in for an utter treat - this is Westlife like you’ve never seen them before.

With additional reporting from Press Association

Read more: 'Ecstatic, emotional' - Westlife hail first comeback concert

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