Concert review: Ronan Keating at Vector Arena

By Lydia Jenkin

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Ronan Keating croons his tunes at Vector Arena. Photo / Natalie Slade
Ronan Keating croons his tunes at Vector Arena. Photo / Natalie Slade

Irish eyes were smiling at Vector Arena last night with easy listening superstars Sharon Corr and Ronan Keating each charming audiences with a selection of nostalgic favourites and some newer material.

Corr has been pursuing a solo career for the past couple of years and impressed with her charisma and talents on the violin, which appeared in nearly every song.

Totally at ease in the spacious surrounds of Vector, she had the crowd singing along to The Corrs' hit So Young, and the five piece band wrapped up with an energetic Irish traditional featuring pipes and whistles.

She complements Ronan well as a support act, both of them easy on the eye and possessing that innate Irish cheekiness, and delight in a right old party - which is what Vector Arena became when Ronan took the stage.

The audience were treated to an impressive production - a full visual backdrop, seven piece band, and a string quartet who heralded his stage entrance.

The consummate crooner had the adoring fans right in his wee pocket from the start, grinning as he quickly pumped through Believe Again and If You Love Me. He certainly likes his air drumming, and its evident he enjoys playing the showman. He even attempted a little Irish dancing to the crowd's delight.

It was when he pulled out If Tomorrow Never Comes that the collective audience voice surged behind him for the first time, and he kept the feel good factor high by inviting Sharon back onto the stage to duet with him on Last Thing On My Mind.

Then it was time for some cross-medium promotion as they played an extended highlights reel from Ronan's upcoming Australian movie Goddess. Cue gasps from the female audience members on seeing Ronan shirtless.

Fortunately attention was soon back to the music, and the business of covering Burt Bacharach, as Ronan did with his 2011 album When Ronan Met Burt. Sadly he only included two Bacharach songs in the 90 minute set, but his version of Walk On By was a true highlight - touching and uber smooth.

It was a moment for the lovers in the audience when he broke into smash hit ballad When You Say Nothing At All, pouring the syrup on pretty thick, but it was what the crowd wanted to hear.

He managed to sneak in a brand new track (from his forthcoming new studio album), plus a tribute to Boyzone member Steo who passed away in 2009, which was suitably poignant.

But it was when he came down off the stage to meet the audience during I Love It When You Do that the audience got on their feet (and many women running up the aisles).

They stayed that way for a highly energised version of Lovin' Each Day, and kept up the screams, chants and marriage proposals until Ronan reappeared (having slipped into his biker/rocker outfit of jeans and muscle tee) for the encore. A not half bad cover of Elvis Costello's Pump It Up, followed by Boyzone rock ballad Separate Cars and the big finale of Life Is A Rollercoaster, and he was done, promising to be back soon.

There's nothing subtle about a Ronan Keating show, and they certainly pull out every trick in the book, embracing the cheesiness through and through. But despite one too many X-Factor references, and some pretty weird backdrop imagery (fireworks, clip art-ish love hearts, and screensaver-ish abstractions) the crowd got exactly what they came for - a talented, professional performance of favourite hits, with all the trimmings.

Tonight Ronan, it was a 'yes' from the audience.

- NZ Herald

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