Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Greatest Hits Tour

Filmed in Manchester, the GH tour was the third Westlife had undertaken. 'WHAT?!' I hear you say. "Are you being a lazy bugger and SKIPPING a DVD or something?" Nay, I am not. Because instead of releasing the second tour (World Of Our Own) on DVD, the powers-that-be opted to release a Greatest Hits DVD with video clips and whatnot, to coincide with the Unbreakable release.

So, after a year's wait, we got this, the second of the concert DVDs. Of the third tour. Are you with me so far?

Anyway, this DVD, as said before, was filmed in Manchester. Though when I say 'filmed', I mean 'recorded on camera so some MTV dickweed could mess with it'. The camera work is distracting, using irritating freeze-frames and fancy blurring and whatnot, which serves more to conceal the actual concert than to highlight it. And the concert is such a corker it should be acrime to mess with it this much.

The two-years difference between this and the Where Dreams Come True concert highlights how much the boys have improved and matured since their first outing. The whole thing is built on a kind of 50s/casino/pop-art kind of theme. All five of them play it up, both the dancing and singing executed with obvious glee. The dancing is much more polished and less naff, and everything feels fresh instead of contrived.

The acoustic section, especially, is an utter treat. Kian and Bryan get their guitars out, a couple of musicians come on with the basest of instruments - a pair of bongosn and a bass, and the lads rip into it. If there was such a thing as guitar liberationists, they'd be dragging Kian off stage under fire from a can of mace to avoid him raping his instrument, he looks like he's so violently enamoured of it. Though that's all forgotten when Nicky, a proud smile on his face, screams out his lines of 'To Be With You', his voice a joy.

The medley storms onto stage, each of the boys finally allowed equal microphone time. Nicky's 'I Get Around' is a delight, a is Kian's 'Great Balls Of Fire' and Mark's 'Kiss'. But it's Bryan that really steals the show, with a hip-swivelling version of The Contours' 'Do You Love Me' that should come with a warning for younger audience members, and those less disposed to cheekiness. He belts out every note with a raw, raspy talent that the others can never live up to. It's a great swan-song too, as this was his last concert.

As usual, there's the 'flying over the audience' section (this time on a flat circular platform), though this is probably the lowest point of the show. While the songs are great - 'Written In The Stars' especially - it feels a little too drawn out and boring. Maybe you just had to be in the audience to appreciate it. The other drawback is that it's at this point that Mark's voice begins to give out. Slightly warbily through the medley track, it turns to a full blown screech as he struggles to keep it audible. It's a shame, because he's doing so well until then. And as he says in the post-show behind-the-scenes clip "My fucking voice is gone!". Too right, lad. Mayb

So, while this concert does have the occasional drawback, the concert itself is truly one of the great Westlife accomplishments. It's fun, cheeky, fresh, original, and reminds you once and for all that those lads can really belt out a good tune.

Extras: Full to bursting. There's a multitude of Easter Eggs, some of which are brilliantly hilarious (Shane struggling to pronounce 'pianist' is a highlight). There's a documentary following the tour through the lad's hometowns of Dublin and Sligo which is wonderfully candid, four video clips, two games, and the post-show behind-the-scenes clip.

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