sun 22/09/2019

Boyzone at 20: No Matter What, ITV1 | reviews, news & interviews

Boyzone at 20: No Matter What, ITV1

Boyzone at 20: No Matter What, ITV1

Surely somebody's celebrating as Irish boy band marks a major milestone?

Boyzone at 20: Dannii Minogue plots some more tough questions for the band

In her role as host of this 20th-anniversary celebration, Dannii Minogue was not afraid to ask the tough questions that fans of Ireland’s greatest - or possibly other greatest - boy band wanted to know. “It’s the elephant in the room,” admitted Keith Duffy (the handsome one, not that you would have been caught dead admitting it in the Nineties, who later went on to appear in Coronation Street) with a nervous laugh.

You’d be forgiven for wondering which elephant Duffy was alluding to: could it be the inter-band tension that led to Ronan Keating announcing the band’s dissolution to a shocked Dublin audience in 2001? The bad blood between the group and their former manager Louis Walsh, whose sheer ubiquity on the judging panels of shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent is little excuse for writing off those whose coattails he rode to fame on as an “aging pop act” featuring “three talentless ones”? Or even the question mark hanging over what it is that Mikey Graham, looking ever more like a bank manager squeezed into a dinner jacket, actually does (he brought it up himself over the course of the hour, so I don’t feel guilty for asking)? No: it was the strangeness of the fact that four dads in their 40s still package their music under the name of "Boyzone" - presumably because the manlier alternative sounds like a shop where you’d go to buy nose-hair clippers and cufflinks.

Ronan Keating and Melanie CThe facts are that Boyzone actually got back together in 2008; 18 months before the death of Stephen Gately of an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 33 while on holiday with his husband in Majorca. Since then they’ve been touring fairly steadily and have just released a second post-hiatus album, a follow-up to 2010’s chart-topping Brother. So you can put to rest any notions of the BZ20 album, arena tour and television special being some kind of Big Reunion-inspired reality show cash grab. That being the case though, it was difficult to reconcile how much of the show was given over to the band’s long-ago dissolution, retold through prerecorded interviews before cutting back to a visibly uncomfortable band in the studio.

Over the course of the hour Boyzone performed some of their biggest hits - as well as an unmemorable new single - in between questions from Dannii. While the lack of the usual tenuously connected talking heads that tend to bog down the format was refreshing at first, as the show dragged on it was felt more as if ITV hadn’t managed to find anybody - bar Spice Girl Melanie C (above right, with Keating), who joined the four to bravely take on Gately’s parts on “No Matter What” - who cared enough to celebrate their many number one singles and albums. After their diplomatic response to being shown a critical newspaper clipping containing quotes from Walsh, Duffy joked that the show wasn’t Surprise Surprise - but you could see him glance around, as if hoping for some unbilled guests.

Keating’s musical performances were solid enough, and after their criticisms of the way he ultimately took over all the singing duties it was nice to see the other three get brief turns at the mic - even if, on doing so, the reasons they’ve never tended to sing became apparent. But what really made this special worth watching for the fans was the group’s genuinely heartfelt tributes to their “brother” Gately; whom Shane Lynch described as always with them, even if it only looks as though there are four “boyz” on stage.

Overleaf: hear Boyzone's new single "Love Will Save the Day"


You can put to rest any notions of this being some kind of Big Reunion-inspired reality show cash grab

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Average: 2 (1 vote)

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