9 Aug – It was a fun trip down memory lane for 7,000 Westlife fans in Malaysia yesterday evening, as the Irish quartet took the stage for their first concert in the country in nearly two decades.
Singing both their old hits as well as songs off their upcoming album, the band performed a total of 17 songs – including medleys – at their sold-out first night show, which opened with the 2019 track "Hello My Love".
Donning an all-black uniformed look, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan and Kian Egan sang 5 songs in their first set, including "Swear It Again", "What About Now", "My Love" and "When You're Looking Like That".
After a short video intermission, the quartet reappeared on stage in their next change of outfit, themed red and black, to perform their second set of songs, the upbeat "Uptown Girl" and the more emotional "If I Let You Go". They closed the set with their new song, "Better Man", that was released earlier this year.
While most singers would take a group photo with the crowd of fans towards the end of the concert, Westlife flipped the order as Mark initiated it after the performance of "Uptown Girl". They made everyone wave for the video ("to show everyone back home" they said) – and fans, of course, were more than happy to oblige – before taking a photo with the crowd.
After changing into more rocking outfits, think black leather and skintight jeans, the band performed a medley of Queen songs, consisting of short versions of "Another One Bites the Dust", "Radio Ga Ga", "I Want to Break Free", "Somebody to Love" and "Don't Stop Me Now", and slightly longer versions of "We Will Rock You" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" before ending it on a high note with the whole stadium singing along to "We Are the Champions".
They were not done with their medleys, however, as they sat down to perform short acoustic versions of some of their songs. They even gauged the popularity of their songs by making fans sing out loud to some of them, like "Bop Bop Baby" and "Seasons in the Sun", making fans laugh with their honest thoughts whenever the crowd started to falter while singing. "They don't really like this one," they would joke.
After performing "I Have a Dream", "Unbreakable" and "Fool Again", Nicky suddenly asked everyone in the crowd to put away their phones. As is the norm, almost everyone had their phones up the entire time recording their performances, and he wanted none of that during their next song, "Queen of My Heart".
"I see some rulebreakers," he pointed out some offenders in the crowd before starting the song and continued to tell more 'rulebreakers' to put down their phones even while singing. He cheekily substituted a part of the song's lyrics to "We both don't have our phones..." as he sang, making his bandmates guffaw.
"I enjoyed our moment, no phones, just us and the fans," he later said after the song ended.
The band continued on with their dynamic performance of "Dynamite", the third single off their upcoming 11th album, "Spectrum".
Kian introduced their final song, "You Raise Me Up", saying that the song has come to be a song of hope for them as they sung it at his father's funeral and, a few months later, at Nicky's father's funeral.
The band bade their fans goodbye after the song, disappearing off stage while waving happily and smiling wide at the screaming crowd.
As shouts of encore and loud screams from fans alternated, yelling for the band to appear for more songs, they happily obliged. The quartet took the stage once again – this time clad in all-white, a complete contrast to their opening look – to sing their real final two songs of the night, "Flying Without Wings" and "World of Our Own".
Judging by the opening night of their sold out 2-day show, the remaining 7,000 fans that will be attending the concert tonight are in for an equally fun, if not better, time.