Boyzone at the O2-BZ20-7873-2

Boyzone at the O2 Dublin on Thursday the 28th of November 2013

Stepping into The O2 on a cold Thursday night was like entering a time machine set to 1993. Undoubtedly, that was the aim of this Boyzone 20th anniversary tour and they pulled it off. Suede jackets, leather pants, flashing headgear (in the audience, not on stage) – you name it, it was there. Then of course there were the songs. Keen to stress that this wasn’t just a celebration of Boyzone’s past but one of a new era the nostalgia-laden set was dissected by new material which seemed to improve as the set progressed.

Nothing Without You opened proceedings before the night’s first eardum-bursting chorus of screams met 1997’s Picture Of You. Both songs end with the four lads embracing and soaking in the atmosphere which had reached fever pitch already. It’s clear that they’re overwhelmed by the whole scenario, even if large sections of the O2 have been left closed off. Words naturally sparks an emphatic, emotional singalong before a double-salvo of new material seems to calm everyone down again. They’re solid boy-band pop songs but as is the case with any act, new material will inevitably cause a lull in proceedings.

In a slightly ironic twist, When The Going Gets Tough is followed by the night’s only blunder. As Boyzone depart the stage for the first costume change of the night, an interview begins to play on the screens. Alas, halfway through the screens cut out and The O2 is left in a dark, silent and confused state for what feels like an age before the interview restarts. That minor hiccup quickly becomes a distant memory as images of the late Stephen Gately flash up on the big screen. This is greeted with chants of “Stevo” from the crowd before the band return to the stage to perform Gave It All Away. Out of the stage floor appears a table and chairs accompanied by a bottle of wine and four glasses. Ronan explains that they knew they had to do something to remember Stephen and they couldn’t think of anything better than sitting around a table and sharing their memories of him. It’s  supremely touching and perfectly executed as a tear or two is shed in the audience.

Tracy Chapman’s Baby Can I Hold You Tonight gets the audience’s vocals warmed up again before Ronan is left on the stage by himself. As he begins to speak about Christmas  a sudden sense of dread seems to appear on the faces of some people dotted throughout the audience. The man who butchered Fairytale Of New York is alone on stage, speaking about the holiday season. Surely he wouldn’t. Alas, he doesn’t, instead opting for something far worse, a woeful Christmas inspired track from the new album entitled The Hour Before Christmas. “Time is standing still,” belts out Keating. Too bloody right.

The band’s latest single Love Will Save The Day rescues the performance. It’s toe-tappingly catchy and is probably the best song they’ve ever written, which bodes well for the future of the band. If We Try backs up this theory with its pop-rock undertones reminiscent of Take That, back in the ‘Beautiful World’ era. Too Late For Hallelujah, recently covered by Aslan, closes out the main set. It’s quite apt really that a song now associated with Aslan is performed considering the comparisons that can be drawn between the flamboyance of Christy Dignam and Boyzone’s Shane Lynch.

Lynch does little to shed that comparison as he opens the encore singing Right Here Waiting solo, all the while gesticulating wildly. Love Me For A Reason and No Matter What ensure that the screams are now only audible to the dogs of the East Wall neighbourhood. The entire O2 is on its feet swaying and the show has truly become the celebration that Boyzone wanted it to be. Who We Are, which wouldn’t be out of place at a Snow Patrol concert, rounds off a successful comeback show for Boyzone. They were keen to stress that they are going to be hanging about for a long time yet and based on the evidence of tonight’s show, there’s plenty left in the tank.

Boyzone Photo Gallery

Photos: Michelle Geraghty