Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Ronan Keating Fires Tour - Review

Ronan Keating
Fires tour
supported by Bryan McFadden
Penrith Panthers

Reviewed by Benjamin Oxley

Our entertainers have three things in common:

1 they are Irish

2 they had their musical start in boy bands

3 we have adopted them as honorary Aussies

Twitter told us Ronan was "in the house" and looking forward to his date with Penrith - the little troll mascot he features in tour photos was on the backstage road cases. But was this going to be a night to remember? Was "Fires" going to be out of step with Aussie audiences after the summer they've had?

Nearly a 1,000 people bopped and clapped to the music which has become the Celtic charmer's signature style. Yummy mums and daughters, glamour girls and groovy grans all lapped up the craic, wanting their star to come up close and personal.

Ronan Keating has faced challenges over the past few years, following his affair with a backing dancer and the end of his long-standing marriage. “There’ve been times when I didn’t think I’d be back on this stage,” confessed the former Boyzone man, midway through Saturday night’s show. He went on to thank the audience and his band to encourage him to "face the music" and get back onstage.
So we were treated to 20 hits for the 20 years he has been in show business. "Fires", the title track from his recent album, allowed Keating to command attention on his first appearance at the foot of the mountains. Backing vocals were tight, drums insistent in the big chorus. "The Way You Make Me Feel" featured authentic slide guitar. But it was Keating’s voice that was really surprising. Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) proved he can still sustain the high notes, while on the pained piano ballad Easy Now, My Dear he found darkness and melancholy. He has a genuine love for what he does.

“I’m touring up until the middle of March, in the UK, then Europe, Australia and New Zealand, then working on 20 years of Boyzone – we are just in talks about what we want to do for the new album – Australian X Factor auditions and then heading out there again for the live shows at the end of the year,” he says, barely pausing for breath.

And he was fresh from the launch of his first film "Goddess", due in Australian cinemas later in the month. Ronan will also reprise his role as a judge on the Australian version of The X Factor. Busy boy.

Indeed, there is a specific and authentic energy he brings to his show. Perhaps it's the difference between him and his support act.

Bryan McFadden warmed up the expectant crowd with some material from his new album, The Irish Connection, alongside songs from the recent past. Perhaps it took the final song in his set, "Flying Without Wings" to show what he can do with a hit. He ventured into the crowd, questioning latecomers, and having fun with his laid-back banter. Perhaps, it was his return to stage was a picture of what this evening was about: a gentleman giving his mate a leg up.

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