“The Filipinos are the Irish people of Southeast Asia,” former Westlife member Brian McFadden says. “They’re very friendly, they like to have fun, and are just great people.”
Brian recalls this via livestream to a crowd of reporters at a press conference at the Luxent Hotel on Wednesday, October 31. The Irish singer-songwriter is busy preparing for his solo concerts that will take place on November 16 at the Waterfront Hotel & Casino in Cebu City and November 17 at the New Frontier Theatre in Quezon City. The Philippines is one of several countries Brian has travelled to around the world alongside his former bandmates in Westlife, and he’s excited to come back for his first ever solo gigs.
“In the 20 years I’ve been to going the Philippines with Westlife, Boyzlife, and even Boyzone; I’ve never actually done a solo show. So for me, it’s very, very exciting that I finally get to do solo shows in the Philippines,” Brian reveals. “To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m gonna sing [for the concert].” Getting suggestions from fans online on what songs he should add, he noted that, “It’s kinda funny. The Filipino fans – they want the more obscure songs. They never just want the hits. Like I haven’t sung [those] in 20 years!”
Brian shot to fame as part of Westlife alongside Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Bryne when they debuted in 1998. The Irish boyband is one of the best-selling artists from the United Kingdom, selling out stadiums, releasing number-one hits such as “Flying Without Wings,” “Swear It Again,” “My Love,” and “World of Our Own,” and gaining millions of fans around the world, including the Philippines.
He left the group on March 2004 to focus on his family, and has since released several solo albums and songs including “Real to Me” and “Like Only a Woman Can.” He has also stayed in the limelight by joining shows such as Australia’s Got Talent and Dancing on Ice. Last February, Brian released Otis, an album featuring covers of Otis Redding songs, which McFadden described was “a challenge” to do but also doubled as a “passion project.”
He returned to the Philippines in December 2017 as part of the supergroup Boyzlife with Boyzone member Keith Duffy. The duo sung both Westlife and Boyzone hits to a nostalgic crowd. Brian also opened for Boyzone’s farewell concert in Manila earlier this year on June 23. He serenaded the hits like “If I Let You Go,” “Uptown Girl,” and “Queen of My Heart” to longtime Filipino fans, but the concerts later this month signify his first solo concerts in the country.
“I haven’t really had a show where I’ve incorporated all the Westlife hits with some of my solo records as well, so I’m really excited,” Brian adds. “I’ll be playing some of the old songs, and some of my solo songs, and kinda go full circle in my career.” Other than Otis, he has more projects in the horizon. He teased that he and Boyzone’s Keith Duffy are planning to put out a Boyzlife album, which features re-recorded Westlife and Boyzone songs with the two singers. In addition to that, he’s planning to record a solo version of “Almost Here,” which was initially a duet with his ex-girlfriend Delta Goodrem.
Brian has many fond memories of his time with the group – just don’t expect a reunion with his former boyband anytime soon. Despite initially breaking up in 2012, the remaining four reunited late last year; however, Brian has been left out their new album Spectrum (out November 15) and their ongoing Twenty Tour (of which Manila was one of the many stops). When asked if he’s open to reuniting with his former members, he replied, “I don’t think so. It’s been so long since I’ve been out of the band that it wouldn’t make any sense for me to do it. When the guys got back together last year, we never even spoke about it.”
Despite this, Brian has no regrets with his time with Westlife. Remembering his first visit in the Philippines, he recalls, “It’s the first time we were in Southeast Asia. Fans went crazy at the airport. Obviously, we had success in the UK, but when we stopped by places like the Philippines and Indonesia, the fans were crazy, there were thousands [of them]. It was Mark Feehily’s 21st birthday, and that is my favorite time in Westlife, [and] that’s were we are the happiest. I had very fond memories with Westlife.” Despite no longer being in contact with his former band, he had positive thoughts about “Hello My Love,” the group’s comeback single: “Love it! Great song, great production. The boys are back!”
The concert’s producer, Kate Gayap of EKG Productions, spearheaded Brian’s concerts in the country as a longtime fan of the original five-member Westlife. A self-described “Westlifer” and “batang ’90s” who also attended Westlife’s Manila concert this past July, Gayap brought Brian back to the Philippines to complete the “original Westlife experience.” “Kung lumaki ka noong 1998 to 2004, nandoon si Brian – yun kasi yung peak nila [as a group],” Gayap said. “Why don’t we bring Brian to complete the experience of Westlife?”
Brian McFadden will perform “romantic intimate” concerts – his first solo shows in the Philippines – at the Mediterranean Ballroom at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino on November 16, 2019, as well as as the New Frontier Theatre at Araneta City in Quezon City on November 17. Idol Philippines season 1 grand champion Zephanie Dimaranan will be a special guest in both shows. The concerts are brought to you by EKG Productions.
In celebration of EKG Productions’ 4th anniversary, the concert currently features 20% discounted tickets for VIP, Gold and Silver in the Cebu stop, and VIP and Orchestra tickets for the Manila show until November 5, 2019.
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