Tuesday 20 February 2018

What's next for Westlife?

This weekend, the foursome play their farewell gigs. Ed Power has a few suggestions for their retirement

Westlife: foursome play their farewell gigs
Westlife: foursome play their farewell gigs
Ed Power

Ed Power

The shutters come down on 14 years of soppy ballads and earnest man-pouts this weekend as Westlife play the final two shows of their career.

Speaking ahead of their Croke Park farewell, Mark, Shane, Kian and Nicky seemed unsure as to what exactly they would do with themselves post-break up.

There have been vague musings about solo projects but little in the way of concrete plans. We've come to their rescue with some helpful suggestions as they stare into retirement.

Go into acting -- but keep your six pack in working order

Older brother of rapper-turned-actor Mark, Donnie Wahlberg had his first taste of showbusiness singing and waggling his crotch in New Kids on the Block.

When the hits fizzled out, he moved into acting, starring in Band of Brothers in 2001, then landing a recurring role in the Saw horror movie series. His best-known role to date is in the crime drama Blue Bloods, in which he plays Tom Selleck's perma-scowling son.

But he hasn't entirely turned his back on music. Appearing with a reformed New Kids on the Block (in a joint tour with Back Street Boys) at the O2 earlier this year he stripped off a suspiciously flimsy string vest to reveal the glistening pecs of a far younger man.

Put on a latex mask

It seemed unlikely anyone would ever hear again from one of the Goss brothers after Bros broke up in 1992.

You have to admire Luke Goss, then, for binning the hair gel, moving to the US and reinventing himself as a horror movie actor.

He played a vampire warlord in Blade II, an undead Celtic prince in Hell Boy II (below) and a scary kick boxer in the movie version of video game Tekken.

A cynic would say that none of those movies was half as terrifying as the video to 'When Will I Be Famous?' but that is beside the point.

Goss has also branched into TV appearing on Fringe and a Frankenstein mini-series.

In fact, his acting is going so well that, in 2010, he scotched the idea of Bros reforming, saying the time for a reunion had passed.

Go into political activism

You don't associate wide-trousered, mega-mulleted 1970s dreamboats The Bay City Rollers with social activism.

Yet Eric Faulkner, the group's guitarist and songwriter, has become an impassioned political activist and protest singer.

In particular, he has supported the left-wing British politician Tony Benn, even arranging for Benn to join him onstage at the Glastonbury Festival.

Not all his bandmates have had as productive a time. Singer Les McKeown appeared in court on drug charges in 2005.

This followed an alcohol problem which, at its worst, saw him polishing off a bottle of whiskey a day. More recently he is reported to have suffered from ill-health, though he continues to front Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers.

Sing for Jesus

In addition to performing in a reformed Backstreet Boys (who nowadays tour with New Kids on the Block under the NKOTBSB acronym), the band's golden-haired poppet Brian Littrell has a parallel career warbling for the man upstairs.

Having taken his first steps in music singing for his local baptist church in Kentucky, he returned to the mother lode with a 2005 Christian charts number one, 'In Christ Alone'. A follow-up religious themed album shifted 100,000 copies.

Become eccentric, release a series of cult, incomprehensible albums

As leader of the highly fanciable 1960s act The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker projected a sort of brooding wholesomeness (if he was in Take That he'd be Mark Owen with a hint of a sulking Robbie Williams).

Sick of being screamed at by swooning girlies, however, he quit the band and in the early 1970s embarked on an eccentric solo career that would culminate with 1995's Tilt, a record lacking tunes, lyrics and recognisable instruments.

Just like Brian McFadden's solo album, then.

Qualify as as cosmonaut

When Justin Timberlake left 'N Sync and the group petered out, singer James Lance Bass decided he would fulfil a lifelong dream and go into space. He moved to Russia and trained as a cosmonaut.

The hard work came to nothing as his financial backer withdrew its support and he was unable to take his place on a mission to the International Space Station.

Try to Become Famous . . . Again . . .

As singer with UK boyband 5ive, Sean Conlon briefly had the pop universe at his feet.

However, the group's popularity quickly flagged. Having changed the face of popular music with such peerless classics such as Slam Dunk (Da Funk) they called it quits in 2001.

Conlon would spend the intervening period attempting to get a solo career off the ground.

With little public interest he decided desperate measures were called for.

So it was that, in March, he auditioned for the UK version of The Voice, performing Coldplay's 'Trouble'.

Alas his dreams of a comeback came to naught as none of the judges chose him.

Become a hit songwriter

As drummer in Brother Beyond, Eg White can hardly claim to have covered himself in glory (though, in his defence, he left before pop producers Stock Aitken and Waterman remoulded the group as Smash Hits fodder).

Putting his boyband past behind him he set himself up as a tunesmith and producer for hire. He co-authored 'What The Water Gave Me' with Florence and the Machine, and has worked with Duffy, Adele, James Morrison and Joss Stone.

Be a nicer Simon Cowell

For years Take That songwriter Gary Barlow was the classic cautionary example of a boyband star who couldn't make a go of things after his group broke up.

He rebounded in style when Take That reformed in 2005 and proved even more popular second time around. Capitalising on his sudden return to credibility Barlow landed a plum gig as Simon Cowell's X Factor successor in 2011.

Initially, he caught flak for being 'too nice' -- he certainly lacked Cowell's way with a pithy put down -- and was accused of having a comedian pal supply him with one-liners.

But despite a ratings dip, X Factor has performed better than the BBC's much- trumpeted UK edition of The Voice, so his job seems safe for the moment.

Westlife's Kian Egan has arguably already set out on the path to Cowelldom as judge of The Voice Ireland, where his testy relationship with Brian Kennedy provided much of the early entertainment.

Irish Independent

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