THURSDAY 11TH MARCH 2010 AND THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL IS FILLED WITH AN AIR OF EXCITEMENT, FRENZY, BUT MOST NOTABLY, POIGNANCY AND EMOTION. THE AUDIENCE IS PRIVY TO A VERY SPECIAL AND PERSONAL MOMENT AS THEY WITNESS KEITH DUFFY, MIKEY GRAHAM, RONAN KEATING AND SHANE LYNCH JOIN TOGETHER IN AN EMBRACE; FULL OF EMOTION AND BURSTING WITH PRIDE, TAKING A SHORT MOMENT TO LOOK UP TO THE SKIES WHERE THEY ARE SURE THAT THEIR PAL IS LOOKING DOWN ON THEM, WILLING THEM ON.
This is the first live performance that Boyzone have given since the tragic passing of founding member Stephen Gately in October 2009. Friend, companion and brother – ‘Steo’ is still very much with them as they take to the stage and showcase live, for the first time, brand new tracks from their album (dedicated to Stephen), Brother.
This is an album that was started as a five-piece band and finished as a four-piece band. Fresh off the back of their summer 2009 tour, the Boyz were high on life and all extremely excited to get back into the studio to start work on their new album. However on 10th October 2009, work came to a grinding halt after the sad and sudden passing of Stephen Gately, leaving the remaining Boyz lost and grieving, forced to address some very tough decisions about the future of the band, not least whether the album should ever see the light of day. They decided to carry on in Stephen’s memory and Brother is an album that the Boyz are all incredibly proud of. Brother is Boyzone’s sixth album.
Formed in 1993, Boyzone have sold a staggering 15 million records, hit the UK number one spot an impressive six times and helped put Ireland firmly on the musical map. Featuring Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch and Stephen Gately, they combined laid-back Irish charm with boyish good looks and five distinctive personalities that worked together to create something utterly unique. From the moment their debut album, Said And Done, crashed into the UK Number One spot in 1995, they started living a life they had never even dared dream possible.
The group’s second album, A Different Beat, was released in 1996 and featured hits including, Isn’t It A Wonder, Picture Of You, the title track and the band’s first UK Number One single, Words. Its follow up, Where We Belong, was even more successful, spawning All That I Need, Baby Can I Hold You and the band’s best selling single, No Matter What. With sold out shows and top selling singles as far a field as Asia and right across Europe, everything Boyzone touched turned to gold.
Despite that, the band had other dreams beyond Boyzone too. Ronan had enjoyed a taste of solo success with his single, When You Say Nothing At All, and Mikey and Stephen also both wanted to record their own material without the band. After over six years in each other’s pockets, it seemed obvious that a break would do everyone good and the band agreed to take time out at the end of 1999 playing their last show in Jan 2000.
The split turned out to be more permanent than any of them had first intended with various reported remarks in the press stirring up resentment between them during their time apart. Ronan’s solo career had taken off in a big way, while Stephen also released a solo album then became a West End star. Mikey, too, followed his own album release by returning to college and working as both a songwriter and actor, while Keith starred in Coronation Street and went on to various critically acclaimed theatre roles. Shane, meanwhile, enjoyed a successful career in motor sports. In 2004 all five began talking again, airing any lingering grievances and paving the way for a possible future reunion, once they realised that, despite everything, their friendships hadn’t changed at all over the years.
Thrilled to discover they were having as much fun working together again as they ever had, even the band themselves couldn’t anticipate the wildly enthusiastic reaction to their tour, ‘Back Again: No Matter What’, in 2008. All five spent months planning a concert no one would ever forget, yet they were still staggered by the response to what both audiences and critics agreed was the band’s best show yet.
After all their years apart, touring together again made Keith, Mikey, Ronan, Shane and Stephen realise just how special and unique the connection between them is, and none of them wanted their final live date to mean the end of Boyzone again. Instead, they are set about releasing their Greatest Hits album, ‘Back Again: No Matter What’, complete with three new songs to give old and new fans alike a taster of what’s was come.
Summer 2009 took them back on the road for the ‘Better Tour’, which saw a live show that was bigger, better, brighter and more confident than anything they had ever done before. Excited and raring to set off on the next challenge, this is when the five Boyz headed into the studio to start work on what would eventually become Brother. Early in 2011 they took the Brother album out on tour – trying to get used to the strange sensation of performing as a four piece and enjoying the bittersweet success of the tour.
To celebrate their 20th year in 2013 the guys signed a new deal with Warners and released their fifth studio album ‘BZ20’. This Top 10 album was supported by an ITV special ‘Boyzone at 20’ and a UK tour.