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Dazzling backdrop, but lads don't shine

Belgian Surrealism and a chart-topping boyband -- plenty in common there, lads. Lots to work with for a stage show, like. No worries if nobody has a clue what's going on, you know. But some of us do. In fact, give us a few seconds to Google the artist's name and ... ah yes, I knew it: Rene Magritte. Famous for all kinds of peculiar images and paintings, such as The Son of Man and Golconda.

And whaddaya know, when Nicky, Shane, Mark and Kian descend from the ceiling wearing bowler hats and red ties, it's not because they're trying to make a fashion statement. It's the same for those giant, inflatable apples on both sides of the stage. Indeed, it may sound a little odd, but it looks as though Westlife are eager to turn a new corner. Gain some respect from their critics. Match Take That and their gigantic elephant. In short, get their art on.

And hey, if the music was in any way interesting, this could be one of the group's finest, more challenging tours to date. That is, if the guys had taken the time to properly make use of the remarkable visuals and quirky props. Instead, the potential for an unforgettable production lies somewhere in the rubble of a messy and rather unfocused theme.

Basically, Westlife show up, shake their asses, sing a few tunes, float out into the audience, chat about this and that, return to the stage for a vibrant encore, and we're done. But the imagery surrounding them, well, it's quite fascinating, really.

So why the hell didn't they go further with it and create something huge and theatrical? Hire a few backing dancers? Rearrange the material and deliver their own eye-popping circus?

Granted, it's a little unfair to continue comparing Westlife to Take That, but the latter set the bar for concerts by a boyband on their last tour. This, on the other hand, has all the look and feel of a half-finished job.

Oh well. At least it's not all bad. In fact, it's a surprisingly tolerable, if slightly predictable, offering, complete with everything you'd expect from a Westlife show (screams, hits, more screams, Mexican wave, more hits, etc).

They're talented vocalists, that's for sure -- great fun, too. They look the part, sound good, and tick all the right boxes as far as the fans are concerned. But it's hardly the dazzling spectacle that it very nearly could have been.

HHHII


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