Westlife: Cape Town Bellville Velodrome

Westlife manage to escape Israel and make it to Cape Town for a solid pop fandango...

In South Africa one British pound buys you eleven rand. That’s a stinking great deal for UK travellers to this country. But it plays hell with promoters bringing international acts to South Africa. In the case of Westlife, it means fans here get a budget version of the much hyped song-and-dance act that recently toured the UK.

Which is disappointing. Instead of Westlife flying across the stage on invisible ropes, all we get are some fancy fireworks and a choreographed routine involving a set of cheap plastic chairs that looked as if they had been found in a hurry in some backstage storage facility. Not that the more than 7000 mostly teenage fans who flocked to the Bellville Velodrome care. All that matters to them is that Westlife haven’t been blown away by a Hamas suicide bomber while in Tel Aviv the night before and have survived the subsequent exhausting first class dash from Israel to Cape Town.

You know this from the moment Westlife open their blitzkrieg three-date weekend tour of South Africa with the aptly titled ‘Dreams Come True’. So hysterically deafening is the initial fan response that it seems that the sound desk has screwed up their levels. By the time Bryan, Kian, Mark, Nick and Shane step, strut and thrust their way through their 18-song set (which includes an equal sampling from both albums plus ‘Uptown Girl’) panties and bras are being flung stagewards, and posters emblazoned with ‘Shane meet me in your room’ are hoisted above the heads of the crowd.

The only real disappointment is a crap reading of ‘Seasons In The Sun’ and a throwaway unrecorded Motown medley. But by the time the encores ‘Lay My Love On You’ and ‘Flying Without Wings’ are delivered the crowd are delightfully knackered. So too are Westlife. In spite of earlier boasting that they were eager to meet Cape Town’s beautiful women, they are by all accounts tucked up in bed in their five star hotel before the clock strikes twelve.

Mike Behr