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West end boys: As they bow out after 14 years, Westlife reveal their hits.... and misses
As the final curtain approaches for Westlife, with their last concerts at Dublin’s Croke Park tonight and tomorrow, we look at the highs and lows of Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne’s 14-year career . . .
21 June 2012: Westlife have sold 44 million albums, had 14 Number Ones, three short of The Beatles, and 25 Top Ten singles. They were the first act to have their first seven singles reach the top spot.
Before fame beckoned Nicky, who failed in his attempt to become a professional footballer with Leeds United, was due to start training with the Garda, the Irish police force. Shane was studying business and accounting, Kian was working in a jeans shop, planning to teach children music, and Mark was a pizza delivery boy with singing ambitions.
They once had nicknames for each other. Shane was Trigger (from Fools And Horses) because of his clueless comments; Mark was Fat Lips; Kian was Horse (no one knows why); Brian McFadden, who left in 2004, was McDonald’s Head because his haircut resembled the Golden Arches, and Nicky was Bowling Pin Alley due to his once crooked teeth.
The stylist who over-dressed them in diamante-encrusted black outfits for the 1999 MTV Awards was sacked by record company boss Simon Cowell the next day.
The boys bought their families big houses.
Kian has a Chelsea apartment, a stunning house near the beach in Sligo, and drives a Porsche.
Nicky has a £2.5 million seaside mansion near Dublin. He drives a Ferrari and a Bentley.
Mark drives a relatively modest, in Westlife terms, Land Rover. He has a flat in London, and a mansion and buy-to-let homes in Sligo.
They have colour-coded microphones so they pick up the right one as engineers need to mix the sound to suit their voices.
This final Greatest Hits tour didn’t kick off well. At the first date at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on May 10 the show was stopped for half an hour when power to the giant screen backdrop on stage failed.
They had a potentially dangerous mishap during last year’s tour at the Liverpool Echo Arena. The giant girder they were sitting on while they sang Flying Without Wings got stuck as it moved above the crowd. Audience members had to be cleared while it was lowered.
Despite their long association with excitable manager Louis Walsh (he formed the band in Dublin in 1998), they have never fallen out. But they have been embarrassed by his diva moments. ‘We’re always pleading with him, “Oh, Louis, please stop” says Kian.
They have survived lightning hitting their airplane and an earthquake in Mexico City.
The band’s favourite song, and probably the fans’, is Flying Without Wings (1999). Their least favourite is Tunnel Of Love (2000). It’s hated for what they call its ‘cheeseball’ lyrics.
Their worst concert was a corporate gig for Audi in Austria a few years ago. No one in the audience appeared to know who they were.
Of all the world leaders they have met, they were most impressed with President Obama when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 2009. He joked with the boys about having a Guinness with them because of his Irish roots.
They cite their tenth anniversary gig at Croke Park in 2008 as their most nerve-racking - and say these two last gigs will be the most expensive they have mounted (the very last one is being relayed to cinemas in the UK). Expect spectacular special effects.
Source: Daily Mail. Credits: Getty Images