The concept for Boyzlife: Live In Manila, promoted by Ovation Productions, may have been kind of forced if it was meant to cover the songs of two little-known groups. But the fact that it served the catalogues of both Boyzone and Westlife ensured it was a night of tunes all-too familiar to Filipino fans.
Brian McFadden of Westlife and Keith Duffy of Boyzone delighted Pinoy fans at the Kia Theater with scores of hits and notable covers of classic tracks done by their respective boybands.
It is a concert almost without letdown as each number is a melody most in the audience are familiar with, or at the very least, a song one has heard before but can’t recall for sure its title.
Credit goes to both Brian and Keith for making concertgoers feel relaxed that night. The two performers were ready to mingle with the crowd, many of them probably belonging to titos and titas of Manila.
At one point, the singers went down and approached people in the front seats. It must have been a tough job for the bouncers to keep the two boys, now men, from getting hurt or inadvertently harassed in any way, but the gesture was truly worth capturing.
Seeing both Brian and Keith up close was a privilege that any fan would appreciate.
“Are you guys having a good night? How about you guys up there?” Keith asked in a jolly tone.
He even addressed the spectators seated on the balcony section, “You are so far away. Why don’t you come down here? Help yourself.”
Brian sounded confident all night, his voice echoing talent to a high degree. When he sings, he soars. Small wonder he’s having considerable success as a solo act, and Westlife’s disbandment in 2012 ensured he’s a solo voice that can carry the group’s legacy with flying colors.
He said, “Let’s dance the night away. If you know the songs, sing along and have fun.”
That was the cue. Right on cue.
The show opened with a couple of upbeat songs bannered by “Picture Of You” before they settled down with “Words.”
While you might think the concert would lead to a dogfight showcase as to which boyband has enough hits to count by, the crowd obviously did not bother turning the evening into a competition of sort for the two.
It didn’t matter much whether the song being sung is from Westlife or Boyzone, what’s taken into consideration was if the song classic enough to grab everyone’s attention.
It is fortunate that covering classics was part of the routine of boybands. So there’s plenty of songs that had been famous way before they were covered.
To their credit, they could still vocally own such standards. “You Needed Me” was an Anne Murray classic, yet the rendition recorded by Ronan Keating, Keith and the rest of the boys somehow stands on its own.
One of the “will you marry me” fan streamers caught Brian’s attention and he responded with a grin. “I’ve been married too many times. If you are the first, it’s okay. But if you are the sixth, that’s probably too many. I’m not Elizabeth Taylor.”
In another instance, the Boyzlife tandem took mobile phones from the audience and jokingly pretended they may not be able to bring the gadgets back or reacted as if they’ve seen sensitive content in a particular phone.
Brian and Keith did not just sing for the crowd. They played with them.
Keith may not have the strongest of vocals that hard-to-please fans are expecting. Nevertheless, he made up for it with his charm that can land big roles if he is cast in a Filipino movie.
“Can somebody get Brian a stair?” he joked upon seeing his partner somewhat struggling to get back to the stage after sharing moments with fans below.
One highlight sequence came after Brian and Keith danced in sync to the groove of “Love Me For A Reason.” Memories of old boybands came rushing back and tickled the fancies of people in attendance.
That was a key element of boybands from the late '90s. The members dance with enough punch and in unison. That’s why talk show host James Corden observed that millennial boybands have the “audacity to bring in a guitar on stage and play.”
In the past, boybands performed in proper harmonies, danced in steps with each other, and wore matching outfits; they don’t play guitar to look extra cute.
Way past their teenage and heartthrob years, Brian and Keith carry themselves more gentlemanly with a right dosage of humor.
Keith introduced Boyzone’s biggest hit by saying, “No matter what I like the Philippines.”
Concertgoers sang along as they performed the highly anticipated "No Matter What."
Keith also announced his group’s 25th anniversary next year and the release of a new album in the latter part of 2018. “Hopefully we make it here in Manila,” he hinted.
In their opening spiel, it was noted that Brian had not been in this country since 2003. He admitted, “It’s time to say how much I miss the Philippines. What a place! Great fans.”
Seeing how they did their best to entertain in such a free-flowing manner, it is okay to say Brian and Keith deserved all the love.