Review: Ronan Keating, Royal Concert Hall, by Jean Smart
IT'S been two years since Ronan Keating was last on a city stage and that was with Boyzone at the Capital FM Arena.
Fans wanting to see him performing songs from his successful solo career have had to wait three years, which is when he last played the Royal Concert Hall.
On Tuesday, the first of two shows, he was both loud and proud. In fact, at times, too loud.
Not Ronan I should quickly add, whose distinctive, unique voice seems to get better with age and the weight of life's tribulations.
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But now and again his band seemed intent of making their presence felt to the point where the words of many of Ronan's songs were overwhelmed.Such a pity, especially after the acoustically superior set by ex-Westlife star Brian McFadden.
Ronan's sound engineers please take note.
McFadden is another Irish artist with plenty of angst but his solo career hasn't soared like Ronan's. On this evidence, perhaps that is about to change.
They say truly great singers draw from the soul and Ronan has a reservoir of internal pain and heartache.
That much was obvious by his comments between songs as he thanked his crowd for sticking with him through the tough times – 13 years after he stood on the same Royal Concert stage on the very first night of his very first solo concert.
He opened with the title track of his latest album Fires, a song of yearning for a lost love.
Who provided the inspiration?
It's anyone's guess ... his ex-wife, the children he must see less of these days, his late, great friend Stephen Gateley?
Lyrically, Ronan's songs are always beautifully constructed, like the upbeat love song The Way You Make Me Feel and the achingly tender If Tomorrow Never Comes.
But he is just as comfortable stepping up the pace as If You Love Me and I've Got You proved - and which his adoring followers clearly appreciated.
Before he closed, Ronan teased us with a snippet of tantalising information.
"It's Boyzone's 20th year this year – watch out for an announcement!"
A new tour and album must surely be in the offing.
The finale was what everyone had been waiting for: When You Say Nothing At All and Life Is A Rollercoaster, the song which really says it all.