On Tuesday evening, an excited crowd packed into Sheffield City Hall to watch the evergreen Ronan Keating.
Natasha Hemmings, former Miss England turned vocalist, provided the support and some stunning vocals and performed sublime renditions of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and Eva Cassidy’s Songbird. Hits of her own included Enjoy the Silence, The Enemy, Running and Invisible – the latter, her newly released single, particularly going down well with the receptive crowd. Her Invisible Tour EP is certainly worth a listen.
With a highly talented six-piece backing band in tow starting things off with a musical introduction, Ronan then swaggered onto the stage to a cacophony of screams and audible shouts of “We love you, Ronan” and opened with Heyday swiftly followed by Loving Each Day and 2016 hit Breathe.
With such an extensive back catalogue spanning close to three decades, it must have been a tough task to narrow down a setlist. The 23 songs chosen all resonated with the energetic, vociferous crowd.
The former Boyzone frontman dipped into the band’s array of hits including Isn’t it a Wonder, All That I Need and the trio of covers; Baby Can I Hold You, You Needed Me and the anthemic Words ensuring the crowd’s arms were aloft swaying and singing in unison. Ronan showed his appreciation for the crowd by stating “Wow Sheffield! You’re in fine voice tonight!” The appreciation and love was wholeheartedly reciprocated by the sell-out crowd.
More hits followed with The Way You Make Me Feel, If Tomorrow Never Comes and a superb rendition of fellow Irishman Damien Rice’s Blowers Daughter, which really demonstrated the sheer power of Keating’s voice.
Keating and his band then took to stools for an emotive middle part of the set with a touching performance of In This Life – a song that Ronan hand sung at former Boyzone bandmate Stephen Gately’s funeral.
This was followed by This Is Your Song, which was written after Keating’s mother passed away in 1998, a real heartfelt performance with each and every word resonating with the crowd.
No Matter What and Academy Award-winning Falling Slowly closed the superb, stripped-back set, before Keating disappeared for a quick wardrobe change before coming back on stage to a rapturous applause before performing a Last Thing On My Mind, Love Me For a Reason and the classic When You Say Nothing At All.
“Would you like to dance?” Ronan asked, needing no invitation at all, 2000 replies of “Yes” echoed around the iconic venue. Keating responded with, “Right answer!” before Picture of You, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl and Long Goodbye closed proceedings.
A two-song encore with When The Going Gets Tough and smash hit Life Is a Rollercoaster ensured the buoyant crowd gave him a well-deserved standing ovation and went home with beaming smiles across their faces. A superb evening from a timeless Irish icon who has convinced me that he’s Benjamin Button – the man still has his youthful boyband looks, Irish charm and playful sense of humour intact.