As many devoted and pissed off Australian Westlife fans will know, this week is the week Westlife would have been doing their Australian tour, starting on the Sunday just past in Perth. The Brisbane concert was scheduled for this Friday. So, in... erm... celebration of the concert that may still be, but possibly not, this week I'm gonna do a series of reviews. "What the HELL?!" you may say "Didn't you already review everything it was possible to review?!"
Nope. There's always more, with Westlife. Because of the tour, it will be the tour DVDs that are focused on - don't worry folks, there's only four of them. But if I'm sufficiently encouraged it's entirely possible that I'll do the non-tour DVDs. And by 'encouraged' I mean 'bored over the holidays'. Don't even get me started on individual performance. Believe me, I'll do it. And there are THOUSANDS.
So, let us start with this, Westlife's first tour.
Kicking off in 2001, the Where Dreams Come True tour was loosely called the 'No Stools' tour, in deference to the band parting ways with their tendency to sit on stools and wear black.
And, as promised, there's not a stool in sight. However, you've gotta wonder how many more ideas they couldn've come up with under the heading of 'things we can sit on that aren't stools'. Cars, large white blocks, metal towers... yep, it seems as though Westlife are simply not able to sing while standing up - maybe they don't have sufficient blood in their bodies to keep both their legs and vocal cords supplied at the same time. Who knows?
They obviously can't dance and sing at the same time, that much is obvious. Or should that be, simply, 'can't dance'? Certain members, in particular (I'm looking at you, MARK!) would put Peter Garrett to shame with their jerky, uncoordinated turkey-dancing. In fairness, Nicky and Bryan are dab hands, and Shane and Kian don't do too badly. Maybe it would help if they weren't trying to squish in every tiny molecule of BSB/Nsync into their performance that they can.
This is, in fact, the real drawback with the concert. It's their first concert, they're babies to the touring scene... what else can they do but try and copy everything everyone else has ever done? You can't tell me for a second those space-suits in the beginning are anything less than something nicked from the dumpster behind the Backstreet Boys' 'Larger Than Life' shoot? And if I had to get rid of any one thing, it'd be those irritating background dancers.
In fairness, though, they do a very good job, even though they look like they're not sure where they are half the time. Dancesteps are missed, certain people don't seem to have realised that vocal acrobatics are not the best thing ever (again... MARK!), the music director (Richard Taylor) hasn't injected anything close to life or originality into the well-known songs, but the concert is performed with such a sense of excitement and vitality that it's impossible not to sing and dance along. The lads have all their youthful enthusiasm (something we've not seen in quite a while) and look genuinely enraptured with the whole process. They play up to the crowd, mess about with each other, and close their eyes while singing in a way that is emotional instead of scripted.
But of course, we have to talk about the music. For the first and last time, the concert is packed with songs that are not singles. Rather than slip in a couple of new album tracks, the whole thing is chockas with fans' favourites instead of publicly accepted blandness. You Make Me Feel is a stunner, as is Dreams Come True, No No, and Somebody Needs You. The medley is a treat - Motown flavoured this year, with My Girl, Can't Get Next To You, What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted etc. Not to mention it's the introduction of the good old Westlife standard: flying over the audience. And this year they manage it on a metal frame (check out the pic) during the Flying Without Wings encore, which is quite simply stunning.
Not their greatest concert by a long shot, but certainly one of the most enjoyable, injected with an unavoidable vitality, making this a must-have for any fan's collection.