Irish, chart-topping Westlife bounced on to the floating stage last night at Henley Festival unfortunately without band member Mark Feehily missing due to him recovering from pneumonia. They also had a big stage to fill as unusually there was no backing band.
Despite that the trio of Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne threw themselves into the show opening with Starlight with them shouting to the audience to jump, jump! Their dance moves then went up a gear when they sang Bill Joel’s classic Uptown Girl during which there were fire pyrotechnics going off at the front of the stage. The boys then said, “Are you ready for this Henley?”
Shane said, “Ladies and gentlemen you are all looking very good. Are you having a good time tonight? We’re already having a good time thanks to all of you lot. The more you keep that up the more we’ll give you Henley and there’s going to be a lot of love coming from this stage tonight. We want to sing lots of songs that hopefully will bring lots of memories for people here tonight. We want you to sing out loud. We want you to sing as many songs as you know. This next song is one of our favourite songs. Maybe you can remember where you were when you heard it for the first time.” They then performed My Love.
More hits followed with When You’re Looking Like That and Swear it Again their first number one song.
The band returning to the stage in silver waistcoats then performed an unexpected medley of Abba songs which really got the audience going which included Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Money, Money, Money, Waterloo and Thank You for the Music. Afterwards the boys went off to change and returned in very Henley Festival suits.
There were no sitting on stools, like the band were renowned for in the 90s, despite now all being their 40s and Dads, they kept up the dance moves throughout the show with only taking a breather to do some costume changes.
The set continued with the What About Now, followed by the Barry Manilow hit the band had a number 1 in 2003, asking before is there anyone in the audience called Mandy?!
Lay My Love on You and Flying Without Wings completed the set with Kian saying before, “Mark is not here tonight so we need you to sing his part.” An emotional ending to the show which showcased their powerhouse vocals are still there after 20+ years.
The show finished with an encore of Hello My Love and the big Westlife classic You Raise Me Up a truly uplifting and perfect song to end with.
Nile Rodgers is the headline floating stage act tonight (Thursday). Tickets are sold out for tonight and tomorrow night.
Photo credit: Harvey Williams Fairley