Westlife’s first ever US tour kicks off in Boston


Credit: Maria Alejandra Mata

Irish pop group Westlife took over Boston right before St. Patrick’s Day weekend, on what would be their first ever live performance in the United States. MGM Music Hall was the stage for the group’s historic performance, in front of a sold out crowd filled with lifelong fans, and many had waited over 20 years to finally see the group live.

Anticipation kept growing as the room reached full capacity, and a loud roar erupted as soon as the lights went down. The long awaited show kicked off with the anthemic “Starlight”, followed by two of the group’s most popular hits, “Uptown Girl” and “When You’re Looking Like That”, igniting the audience right away. The boys would take turns to address the crowd, with Shane Filan expressing the group’s excitement. Both Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne would also elaborate on the importance of these shows, with a mix of pride and anxiety; their concerns would be unfounded, as fans sold out every stop of the tour within just a few days.

Both Westlife and their adoring fans were all smiles as the hits continued to rush in, from “If I Let You Go” to “My Love”, the first part of the show was full of classics, followed by a lengthy ABBA medley that included the group’s cover of “I Have A Dream”. The trio’s strong vocals and harmonies took center stage at all times, but one thing was notably missing: Mark Feehily’s striking voice. They made sure to acknowledge the singer’s absence, as he was forced to stay behind and recover from surgery after a series of health complications he’d been facing in recent years. Despite this, the three singers took over Feehily’s vocal sections seamlessly, with Filan at the helm. Egan would later say this only gave them more reasons to return to the US as soon as possible with a fully healthy Feehily on vocals.

In between the ballads and pop hits, Nicky Byrne took a few minutes to get everyone involved in a fun exercise: he’d get his fellow bandmates to record him as he instructed fans to light up the room with their phones. The audience was also full of special guests: they had all brought their families and friends along for the historic performances. The upbeat “World of Our Own” gave way to an emotional performance of “Flying Without Wings”, with the lads returning for the encore after a quick break. “You Raise Me Up” brought the show to a close, and with it an important milestone was reached: the group had finally serenaded the US. Everyone knew they had experienced something special, and Shane Filan’s ad lib in “I Have A Dream” made it clear: “we had a dream, and the dream came true!”

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