Boyzone: Mount Rushmore of boybands
I went to the Boyzone gig (not words I ever thought I'd be saying, let alone printing in a leading newspaper), forgetting that as boybands grow up, so do their fans.
The screaming teenage girls I foolishly thought would have been here in their droves have, in the intervening two decades since Boyzone first held a time together, transformed into screaming women of a more seasoned vintage.
The 'boys' are back with a fresh confidence after their turbulent 2011 tour, which they perhaps undertook too quickly after the tragic death of Stephen Gately.
Anyways, the lights went down, the cheers went up, and footage of the boys in more innocent times rolled across the screen. Then it cut to all the chaps, immaculately suited and booted on stage, as they crooned, bellowed, simpered, shimmied, whinnied, grinned, pouted – but never twerked – through old faves like Picture Of You, When The Going Gets Tough – which got one of the biggest cheers/spontaneous leaping from seats action of the evening – and a surprisingly lovely rendition of Baby Can I Hold You Tonight.
"Welcome to BZ Anniversary tour, Belfast," purred Keith. "Now all you have to do is enjoy yourself," he twinkled at every single screaming woman and occasional man in the audience.
As dancing girls did the heavy lifting in the keeping rhythm and acting out the lyrics stakes, the Boyz shouldered the burden of competent close harmony singing. At the end of Ruby they came together to pose for a moment that reminded you they are the Mount Rushmore of Irish boybands.
Words came, blew the audience into a small tsunami of wine, sweat and tears, and then went, leaving the room primed for Ronan to deliver his between song sermon. "Belfast was always one of our favourite towns to play," he said, and also remembered 20 years ago and "orange boiler suits in the King's Hall". Footage of Gately prompted another cheer, followed by silence when the band talked about his loss.
It was a perfect evening of sing-alongs, pathos and an overall feel-good inclusive nature that makes it as much soap opera as it is music gig.