Westlife light up Croke Park for homecoming performance

Fireworks exploded above the stage as Westlife made a much-anticipated entrance for their homecoming performance in Dublin.

The boyband made an emotional return to the stadium by opening with their recent hit, Hello My Love.

The UK’s top-selling album group of the 21st century stormed the stage dressed in military inspired outfits.

Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily and Kian Egan, who together have knocked up 14 Number one singles, performed to a crowd of over 80,000 people as they returned to the Dublin as a foursome for the first time in seven years.

The smash hit Twenty Tour sold almost 700,000 tickets – a tour record for the band.

The band kicked off their first of two gigs in Dublin, singing hits including What About Now and When You’re Looking Like That.

Thousands of diehard fans waved their arms in the air as the foursome danced to their string of hits.

An emotional Feehily told the crowd he was trying to hold back tears as he looked across the audience.

Filan vowed to give his home fans their best performance yet.

He added: “This is a special night. This is the night we were looking forward to the most, coming back to Ireland.”

Their performance at Croke Park on Saturday is so popular that it will be broadcast live in cinemas across the UK and Ireland.

Speaking immediately after the performance, Westlife said: “We are genuinely overwhelmed by the reaction of our fantastic fans.

“Never did we imagine that we would be back performing to 160,000 people in Dublin in one weekend, and never did we imagine the response to be as amazing as this.

“Croke Park tonight was so special for all of us and we loved every minute of it. Seeing thousands of fans singing along to our songs, in Dublin, is mind blowing.

“It was also brilliant to perform our brand new single Dynamite in front of a home crowd too.

“We have the best jobs in the world.”

Marking their 20th-anniversary tour, the record-breaking band did not disappoint the thousands of fans.

In what was the first of many costume changes, the singers donned red and black suits for songs including Uptown Girl and Oh Mandy.

The boyband, who recently reunited after splitting in 2012, took the crowd down memory lane with hits like My Love and If I Let You Go.

Filan, who celebrated his 40th birthday, was joined on stage by his children and the other band members’ offspring as the crowd sang Happy Birthday.

Westlife formed in 1998 in Dublin as a fivesome, however original member Brian McFadden left in 2004 just weeks before they embarked on a fourth world tour.

Westlife have sold more than 55 million records worldwide, and are the only band to have their first seven singles enter the UK chart at number one.

They also have the most singles of any artist to debut at number one in the UK.

Overall, the band have had an incredible 14 number one singles, behind only Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

They have had 33 number one albums worldwide, and as a live act have sold five million concert tickets across the globe.

Saturday night’s concert will wrap up their tour of Ireland and the UK before they begin the next leg in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.

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