Westlife in Abu Dhabi review: a pitch-perfect night to remember

Every moment of the almost two-hour-long show was unforgettable, including a special appearance by a great fan and cancer survivor

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Irish boy band Westlife's show on Thursday evening at the Etihad Arena, a part of their Wild Dreams Tour, was a dream come true for every fan of the noughties pop group.

Not only was the venue ideal with its high ceilings, pristine acoustics, air-conditioning and easy parking, but the band also began right on time with an energy so intense people were jumping by the second song.

Westlife did not wait too long before playing a rendition of fan favourite Billy Joel cover Uptown Girl, which the audience sang along to with a pitch so perfect, even the band was wowed.

The group continued singing oldies, including When You're Looking Like That and Fool Again plus unexpected versions of Mamma Mia! and Dancing Queen, much to the fans' delight.

Fans in the crowd at Westlife's Etihad Arena concert. Ruel Pableo for The National

Unsurprisingly, fans at the stadium, which was at roughly 80 per cent of its capacity, quickly began dancing with each other, only pausing to scream enthusiastically for about 30 seconds or so when the band asked: "Is anybody here from Ireland?"

One of the many highlights of the show was a spontaneous appearance by Dian, an Indonesian woman who had captured the group's attention by holding up a sign with a checklist featuring three items:

1) Fight Cancer

2) See Westlife

3) Take a picture with Westlife

Not only did her dream of seeing and meeting the band come true, members of the group also serenaded her and took selfies and short clips for her family and friends.

Westlife's first Abu Dhabi concert was a big deal for the thousands of fans, like myself, who grew up listening to tunes that stood out even back when boy bands such as N'Sync and Backstreet Boys were in their glory days.

Unlike other musicians, who change their style after a long hiatus, songs from their 2021 album Wild Dreams, which the group left to the very end, were also warm, emotional but upbeat in typical Westlife style, including lyrics that are easy to remember and sing along to.

Despite their time away from the spotlight from 2012 until 2018, Westlife's return to the scene, and indeed to fans' hearts, was a much needed reprieve from the past two years since the pandemic broke out, especially under Abu Dhabi's new relaxed mask rules.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 12:44 PM