It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 20 years since Boyzone began their assault on the pop charts, breaking hearts and churning out hits like they were going out of fashion.
Looking around Edinburgh Castle’s half-empty esplanade before the show, it was easy to be cynical about the reformed man band’s chances of resurrecting the pop dream. Yet, for every seat that sat vacant, there was a hyperactive 30-something-year-old fan that erupted into nostalgia-fuelled frenzy as soon as the quartet took to the stage.
Despite kicking things off with Love is a Hurricane, a song taken from their 2010 comeback album Brother, Boyzone were surprisingly happy to ride the nostalgia train with their fans for the duration of the gig.
“We are trying to give you what you want,” announced Ronan Keating to deafening screams, before launching into an impressive parade of all their greatest hits including Baby Can I Hold You, No Matter What and When The Going Gets Tough.
Vocally, the four-piece sounded as good – if not better – than when they first started out. Keating, in particular, sounded as distinctive as ever.
Of all the floppy-haired bands that have re-emerged in recent years, Boyzone are one of the only ones to have really stayed true to their roots. Save for some impressive “dad dancing” from Keating and Shane Lynch, their show was relatively fuss-free and didn’t rely on pyrotechnics, an elaborate set design or swarms of glamorous backing dancers.
Proceedings took an emotional turn mid-set when the ‘boys’ paid tribute to the late Stephen Gately, whose family were in the audience, prompting the biggest cheer of the night. A respectful video montage was played, featuring clips from their heyday and interviews with the band about the impact of his death, before they performed a moving rendition of Gave It All Away.
The triumphant encore, which the band performed wearing kilts, gave the audience the kind of intimacy they could only have dreamt of in their teens. As an infectiously upbeat rendition of Life is a Rollercoaster brought things to a close, each of the members left the stage to dish out high-fives to ecstatic fans in the front few rows.
As it turns out, Boyzone’s fans certainly do love them for a reason.
Words: Amy Anderson