September 24, 2011
Westlife flies east to Beijing
Thirteen years after coming under the spotlight, Irish heartthrobs Westlife show they can still hold their own in a pop, indie rock and Lady Gaga-saturated market, with their 11th studio album, Gravity.
On Sept 25, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan and Shane Filan, will stop in Beijing on the Westlife Gravity World Tour 2011, to treat their die-hard fans to new songs as well as classic hits.
“The fans here are fantastic,” gushes Filan, recalling their first concert in Beijing in 2006. “We remember how polite and respectful the audience was. We could see our fans singing along with us and it was very special. Just meeting lovely people and the different culture was a memory.”
The album title Gravity came from a fan on Twitter and reflects the band’s intention to be more serious about rock.
Grammy Award-winning producer John Shanks got everyone involved in the album’s 12 tracks. The band members, who have had little chance to show off their songwriting skills, wrote four of its songs.
“We love original songs, (and) get very excited when we discover a new song. We really enjoy covering our own compositions,” they say.
The album, they say, is “very contemporary”.
“Our voices have matured and we feel it’s a great representation of us now”.
While winning music formulas have helped the band rack up chart success for more than a decade, what keeps them together, they say, is “respecting each other’s space”.
In their own time, Mark collects art, paintings and photographs, Kian loves surfing now that his house is by the beach, Nicky plays football and Shane loves golf.
“We are great friends but we all have partners and families. We also live in different parts of Ireland most of the time,” Filan says.
With the new album and world tour, Westlife has taken their music and career to another level. “‘We’re all at least 30 years of age. We could all go home now and we’d be all right for the rest of our lives,’ Feehily says. “So, if we are going to make more records, we want to do it well. Otherwise we don’t want to do it at all.”