The home of Hampshire Cricket played residence to one of the biggest selling British boybands of all-time when Boyzone took to the stage at The Ageas Bowl on Saturday evening following the one-day match between Hampshire and Middlesex.
Those in attendance were in great spirits following the home team’s thrashing of the visitors earlier on in the day and the good mood would continue when Ronan, Shane, Keith and Michael appeared on stage following their chosen introduction track of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back in Town.’ The four-piece went on to perform some of their biggest hits from the past 22 years over the following hour and a half, including many of their 21 UK Top 40 singles as well as tracks from their most recent album, From Dublin to Detroit.
As the sun shone down upon the Ages Bowl’s green, middle-aged men and women were downing pints of lager and glasses of pinot and having a good ol’ sing-song and dance along to one of the most charismatic boybands of the 90’s. The likes of ‘When the Going Gets Tough’, ‘Love You Anyway’ and ‘Picture of You’ got everyone in attendance into the show from the off.
The vocal harmonies started off shaky for the opening track, ‘Love Is A Hurricane,’ but they soon improved. However what did surprise me was how good individually they still are when they take on their solos. Ronan Keating in particular still sounds just as good live as he does on a record, and the other three aren’t that far behind him in that respect. Considering these men are all around 40, you’d assume that their vocal capabilities have been hindered slightly with age since they were in their primes, but they haven’t at all and it was a pleasure to see.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed in the last twenty years or so is how good, or should I say bad, Boyzone are at dancing. All four of them are just truly awful but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It’s part of their charm. What was once really bad, cheesy choreography now comes across as really good dad-dancing and that suits them and their personalities perfectly. Shane Lynch in particular thrives in this way. I don’t know what he was on, but I want some! He seemed to be having the time of his life up on stage, prancing and dancing about in a rhythmic flailing kind of way, but it just put a smile on your face. Mikey Graham had his spectacular dad-dancing moments too.
What is clear when watching Boyzone perform is just how much these guys love being around each other. Their chemistry and camaraderie on stage is just great, they were constantly smiling and laughing together and were having a genuinely good time and this brushed off on those in attendance. Even during slower numbers like ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ and ‘Everything I Own’ their togetherness was obvious.
As previously mentioned, the Irishmen treated the crowd to a few tracks from their most recent album From Dublin to Detroit which is a compilation of the group’s take on their favourite Motown hits. ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’, originally by The Four Tops, and ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ by The Supremes were particular favourites.
Overall the performance was thoroughly enjoyable. When the sun is shining and the atmosphere is great it’s always hard not to enjoy yourself but Boyzone added to all of that, they were great fun. They revealed during the set that this was their last show for at least the next year or so whilst they take a break and pursue individual interests, but highlighted that it did not mean goodbye and that they would definitely be back on stage in the future. Despite not being their target audience or being a big fan myself, I hope they don’t stay away for too long.