Eight years ago, I took my then 12-year-old daughter to see Boyzone for the fourth time. Their songs formed the soundtrack to her pre-pubescent life. Those concerts were fun, apart from the screaming girls with their ear-piercing whistles and huge banners. They were also notable for the number of self-conscious small daughters, with slightly embarrassed mothers in tow, who took a vicarious pleasure from the whole thing and gradually let themselves go as the evening wore on.
Eight years on, and Boyzone are back. When I mentioned this to my now 20-year-old indie chick, undergraduate daughter, a long-forgotten, excited look appeared in her eyes. So off we went: she was going to "embrace her inner nine-year-old".
The screaming girls have now turned into packs of groomed twentysomethings, with cleavage and skin-tight jeans. But the mums and daughters are still there, the former looking chuffed to have another chance to share this once again with their sophisticated offspring. And we weren't disappointed. From the first strains of the upbeat "Picture of You" right through to the final bars of "No Matter What", the hits kept coming and we had a blast.
There were some slightly embarrassing moments, particularly when four of them stripped down to their boxing shorts for a "work-out" to "When the Going Gets Tough" (why did Mikey Graham stay in a vest – is he hiding something?). Boyzone have never had the eye candy so splendidly provided by rivals Take That, and this was all a bit unnecessary and prurient. The Jackson Five medley also fell a bit flat, with the group's lack of dancing skills blatantly apparent. And the obligatory solo spots for the weaker members were a little trying.
But there were some surprises too. Stephen Gately's solo, "Bright Eyes", was vocally extremely strong and – amazingly, when you look back to the early days – absolutely in tune. But the star of the show, and the only real reason Boyzone ever worked, was Ronan Keating. He has matured and his voice has grown to become even more attractively gravel-edged. From "When You Say Nothing at All" through to "You Needed Me" and on to "Baby Can I Hold You", his star quality and charisma shone out. And it was touching when all five of them joined in his most successful solo hit, "Life Is a Rollercoaster".
It seems that Boyzone are back for good and a preview of their next single, a catchy upbeat number, went down well. Towards the end, they announced that they'd be back at Wembley next year.
Touring to 23 Aug (www.boyzonetour.com)
Annie Noble, PR consultant, Dorset