(Cambridge Evening News)
WESTLIFE round off another stellar summer of open-air music at Newmarket Racecourse tomorrow (Friday, 18 August) night.
The Irish heart-throbs are the last in the Newmarket Nights series which has seen some of the biggest names in the music business packing out the racecourse, from Status Quo and Ronan Keating to Texas and McFly.
For Westlife, the concert is one of their last before they launch their new album.
"We've had an album out October or November time literally every year since we started," says the group's Mark Feehily. "When I think about that it's crazy really because so much work goes into making one album and then we're also touring.
"We've done it seven times, this is the eighth time and next year it will be the ninth time. It seems quite mad when you actually sit down and think about it but normally it doesn't come into your head, you are just focused on what's ahead of you."
The group are rarely out of the spotlight and despite constant rumours that they will be splitting up - fuelled first by a greatest hits album and then by the departure of Bryan McFadden - they have continued their exhausting, almost nonstop live schedule. But for Mark, time in the studio making music away from the cameras and the fans is something he treasures.
"I love being in the studio," he says. "Performing live is one thing but when you are in the studio you can hear every last little syllable of your voice.
"For me that's more enjoyable in a way because when you are on tour there's a lot of people screaming and there's lots of stuff in your ears whereas in the studio you can really focus a lot more on the vocals."
The band formed in 1998 in Sligo, west Ireland and were heavily influenced by their fellow countrymen Boyzone. But the bands the group grew up listening to which set them on the pop path were Backstreet Boys and Take That - the original boy-band standard setters. So when Gary Barlow and chums decided recently to reform Take That and go on tour, the Westlife boys were once again transformed into giddy pop fans.
"We all took a lot of inspiration from Take That," says Mark. "I was as excited as the next person when I heard they were reforming. I think everybody at the time was affected by the phenomenon. I was definitely a Take That fan.
"We used to watch videos of their live gigs so much and it really influenced us as a band.
"I really wanted to see them on their tour but it was a shame because we were on tour at the same time so we didn't get a chance."