Down to three for Dubai show, Boyzone show they're in fine form no matter what

Boyzone’s tight Dubai performance prove they are in it for the long haul.

From left, Keith Duffy, Ronan Keating and Shane Lynch were the trio from Boyzone who took to the stage at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. Satish Kumar / The National
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It was a night brimming with 1990s nostalgia as Boyzone performed at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on May 22.

The Irish boy band were in town as part of their 20th anniversary tour and played a near two-hour set packed with hits and new offerings.

The group, now reduced to four with the death of Stephen Gately in 2009, had to also make do with the sudden absence of Michael Graham, who remained in Ireland due to a family bereavement.

With Graham promoted to second-lead singer after Gately’s death, it was Ronan Keating who did most of the heavy lifting – and his husky voice was in fine form throughout the performance.

Coming on stage dressed in sharp tuxedos, the trio kicked it off in surprisingly low-key fashion with Nothing Without You. A deep album cut from their 2010 release Brother, it wasn't recognised by most of the crowd, but had all the elements that made Boyzone successful: rich strings, lilting melodies and a grandiose chorus.

The follow-up, Pictures of You, deservedly got the crowd on their feet; the 1997 track remains a euphoric treat with the backing six-piece band enhancing the song's Motown appeal.

So it went with the rest of the show, as the boys sprinkled newer tracks among old chestnuts such as Baby Can I Hold You and No Matter What.

For all the talk that Boyzone is a democracy, Keating is clearly the leader. Front and centre most of the time, he cut a slightly serious figure as he led the band in most of the 20-track set.

Keith Duffy and the impressively bearded Shane Lynch were the hype-men, with a job description to shout “Come on!” when sensing any hint of crowd fatigue.

Wisely choosing to ditch the awkward dance moves of their 1990s heyday, Boyzone were content to show their age and focus on their vocals.

With their voices strong and bond tight, the lads confirmed they are in it for the long haul.