Sunday, October 2, 2011

14 again - Westlife Gravity Tour, live in Hanoi

I’ve had themost amazing weekend, in which the highlight had to be the Westlife Gravity Tour Concert here in Hanoi. Not only the concert breathtakinglywonderful, but it brought back so many memories.

Westlife isan Irish band (just in case you didn’t know) that was (is?) intensely popularthroughout Asia and Europe in the early and mid 2000s. They’re on their eleventhalbum now, Gravity and are doing a world tour to promote it. Strangely enoughthey never made it to the US so hardly anyone over that side of the pondactually know them. But my friends in middle school and I really loved themback around 2002-2004, and back then we were following their moves as much as itwas possible with the technology back then :P. After a few years, the obsessionwore off a bit but Westlife songs still remained as a nostalgic memory that wewould dig out every once in a while. I still smile when I remember about bringour discmans to Art classes to listen to Westlife (back in the days when we still listened to CDs) and spending our IT periodsfurtively (or not so furtively) going on the Westlife website. 

(I don’texactly follow them anymore and I thought they might have lost popularity nowbut considering they’re on their 11th album, they must be sellingthose albums to someone.)

[[Image and video heavy]]

So it’staken them over ten years of the band being in existence to come to Vietnam toperform. I’ll be honest, I had reservations about the concert when it was firstannounced, not concerns about the Westlife side, but about our end’s ability toorganise a concert like this and not have it end in a sham, like thenot-so-distant-past-experience of Back Street Boys concert proved.

Regardless,I got tickets for myself and my friend Trang, who got me into Westlife in thefirst place. She flew from Ho Chi Minh City out to Hanoi just to see theconcert with me and boy it was worth it!! 


It’ssomething about just being there among all those people all waiting for thesame thing that gives you a thrill and honestly it was most fun I’ve had inmonths.

Actually oneof the biggest concern in the days up to the concert was the typical concernfor this time of year in Vietnam: TYPHOON!! It thankfully didn’t come and the weathercouldn’t be more perfect! There were some drops of rain as the concert started,but after about a song or two it let up and it was the perfect autumn night inHanoi – cool amidst the heat of the screaming and excitement and adrenalinerush of the performance. 

Our seatswere the VIP seats so admittedly we were a bit far from the stage, but I thinkin the end we got a a decent view, it was the front row, which meant that wecould stand and our vision isn’t blocked by anything and it was right in thecentre. People standing under the stage apparently said that their neck gottired from looking up after a while, even though they admittedly got muchbetter photos of Westlife than I could have done.  

They startedoff with When You’re Looking Like That and World of Our Own. It’s incredibleand unbelievable to hear songs that my friends and I once loved and sangtogether so many years ago, now sung live. I never thought it was even possibleto be better live than in the studio! I think it was a combination of theexcitement of finally having them in Vietnam, hearing them live for the firsttime and being all around the crazy atmosphere of the stadium that made it so good. I don’t think I’ve screamed somuch…ever!

One of thehighlights has to be the screams that they got when Shane just startedprompting “An empty street, an empty house, a hole inside my heart…” I wasactually so bummed when I didn’t see My Love on the song list in the GravityTour wikipedia page at the beginning…I mean, how could they NOT sing My Love?It’s the song I love and it’s the song fans here in Vietnam love. Herein Vietnam, to think about Westlife is to think about My Love. So you cannot believehow thrilled I was to hear them start singing it and I think literally thewhole stadium was singing along. Here’s the video:  

 Excuse our kind of off-tune singing. Below is a better version and angle from youtube :P

The thing Ilove about Westlife concerts from videos I’ve seen is that they always have amedley break in the middle where they cover songs from other artists and it’salways slightly goofy and really fun. This time they were dressed in MickeyMouse t-shirts and singing Viva La Vida (Coldplay), Only Girl (Rihanna), TheTime (Black Eyed Peas), Bad Romance (Lady Gaga) and I Predict A Riot (KaiserChiefs). Bad Romance of course got the screams hehe.

Some funmoments: They were whipping out their iPhones to take pictures and videos thewhole time, I think Nicky was even Tweeting on stage. They even took videos andphotos for the fans near the stage. I think of the few bands/artists that haveperformed here in Vietnam (there’s been very few – BSB, Super Junior, David Archulettacome to mind) only David had both made the crowd this wild and be this closeand friendly. There’s a breath-takingly beautiful moment where they asked everyoneto take out our phones and shined them up to the sky for You Raise Me Up.

Photo: Dao Nguyen

Ohyeah, there was the mid-concert crowd-control exercise for the guys, exceptthat I doubt they achieved much. Basically everyone standing by the stage waspushing up so people at the front were getting a little crushed and Markstarted off trying to get everyone to take 2 steps back. It didn’t work and hegave up :p and the rest of the guys took over. I wonder whether anyone moved atall. Haha.

We finishedwith an encore of What About Now and Uptown Girl, which is appropriately upbeatand really great note to end on. What I love about Westlife is that theirstrength might not be in the complicated choreography but they know how tospice up their routines so that it’s fresh and fun.

My only realcomplaint is that at the beginning, Mark’s microphone apparently had someproblem and that Kian got too little of the limelight. I think the only time Igot a decent photo of him on the LCD screen was when he was not singing, but talking (about his wife and new baby,and got the whole stadium to chant the baby’s nickame – Twinkle – for him torecord on his phone). 

This was the only decent shot of Kian that I got.

Actually, strangely the only one who I got most decent shots of was Mark and it wasn't intentional. Shane got close ups on the LCD screens a lot but somehow his shots came out either blurry or all I get is his chin...haha.

I think they should have done You Make Me Feel, onebecause I love that song :P and two because Kian actually has a solo in that. 

Anyway, here's Mark. Trang is happy though :D. 

I really like this photo of Nicky

Also, this is a general complaint that I’m sure everyone has: the concert wasway too short!! They started around 8h10 and ended when it wasn’t even 10 yet.It seemed even shorter when you’re actually there because you’re so focused onthem. But it was a fantastic show! All the seats were filled, and there was somuch screaming ^^

It was anamazing night. They should come back. Oh my god, they should have done morethan just one night here and I totally would go to see them again…