From Westlife to Right Here: Shane Filan heads to Southend21/01/2016 21:49
IT seems like only yesterday we were swaying along to the sounds of Flying Without Wings and You Raise Me Up as Westlife topped the charts with ballad after ballad.
Boasting 14 top singles and record sales reaching 44 million, the Irish boy band were on top of the world.
But after 14 years together and a few final rocky years as a foursome, the group decided to go their separate ways in 2012 and Westlife were no more.
However, this wasn’t going to be the end for frontman Shane Filan. Determined to go it alone, the 36-year-old singer went on to release a solo album and tour the nation under the watchful eye of the band’s original manager Louis Walsh.
Now he’s back for more, with a new album Right Here and tour that brings him to Southend in March.
“It was very important for me to keep going after Westlife,” the singer tells me over the phone last week. “It was the only thing I really wanted to do. I was only 33 at the time, so that’s quite young to retire!”
Shane is the first to admit that his solo career is nothing compared to the ‘phenomenon’ of Westlife.
But he’s enjoying playing more intimate venues – something that would have been near enough impossible while he was in the band.
“This is not something I can ever compare to Westlife because that was an absolute phenomenon but to continue after that and be making albums and touring, that’s all I want to do.
“With Westlife we went straight into arenas, it was a different ball game all together,” he says. “But to play these venues where you’re so close to the fans, I couldn’t get over that you were literally three feet from the front row, you could high five them. The best thing about being a singer is singing live to your fans who love your music. There’s nothing better than it. So this March is going to be very exciting, I can’t wait for it!”
However, it hasn’t been an easy journey for Shane. After the band split in 2012, the singer was declared bankrupt and with three young children at home, there was even more pressure for his solo career to take off.
“It was a bit scary at the very beginning,” he admits. “When I started making the album and looking forward to the first show was very daunting. I don’t know what the fans expected of the first album, I just wanted to make a good album but I think it was a little more country than what I’m doing now.
“But this new album, I wanted to make it a bit more pop and possibly a bit closer to Westlife,” he adds. “The only way you can compare that is there are more ballads on this album, which Westlife did a lot of, but I love singing ballads, so when I made this album I sort of kept leaning towards ballads every time I was writing a song.”
Having spent 14 years with the group, Shane says he has many fond memories with his former band mates; Brian McFadden, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily, and still classes them as ‘family’, although doesn’t know whether a Take That style reunion will ever be on the cards.
“It’s really nice when we bump into each other, because we’ve got so much history together. I know them lads better than my own brothers. We’ve only been in the same room, all four of us, once in four years though, which is mad.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and that’s the way we all are I think,” he adds of a potential reunion. “There’s no plans to do it right now, but could it happen? Of course it possibly could. I never want to the lie to the fans and pretend or say maybe it will or maybe it won’t. We’ll just have to wait and see I suppose.”
Despite his new tour very much focussed on his latest album Right Here, Shane is still connected to his Westlife roots and promises he’ll be revisiting some of this favourite songs from the group on the tour.
“I love singing You Raise Me Up every night,” he says. “Every time I do a set list, whether it be any kind of show at all, I put You Raise Me Up in there. It’s just an amazing and incredible song. When you’re in the auditorium, the way it puts a spell on the crowd is just incredible. And they love singing along, so that’s definitely one that’s going to be in the set list.
“I want to still sing songs back from memory lane and that people love,” he adds. “One of the main reasons I’m here is because I was in Westlife so you’ve got to sing those songs too and I love to sing them. But there will be some songs from the last album, the singles too.”
Shane Filan’s Right Here tour comes to the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on 10 March. For tickets, call the Box Office on 01702 351135 or visit southendtheatres.org.uk.
Credit/Source: The Enquirer