Westlife’s Shane Filan excited for first return to Ipswich Regent in four years

Shane Filan. Picture: DAVE COOLEY

Shane Filan. Picture: DAVE COOLEY - Credit: Archant

Ex-Westlife singer turned solo star talks about his career ahead of his Ipswich Regent gig on Monday.

With his Right Here tours in 2016 and last autumn’s Love Always tour going so well, it’s no surprise fans have been clamouring for more of Shane.

He’s happily obliging, with the second leg of the latter visting the Ipswich Regent on May 7. It’ll see him perform some of his favourite classic love songs from the album of the same name, previous solo tracks and, of course, some Westlife.

You’ve got some time off after touring Asia?

My most important duty is being a dad, so when I get home I bring the kids [daughter Nicole, 12; and sons Patrick, nine and Shane, eight] to school, to activities, stuff like that. I don’t like being away for longer than a couple of weeks so work hard as much as I can through the year. I love watching Netflix at night with the missus, winding down but the kids they’ve loads of stuff on.

The school is only like three or four minutes away but I love doing it... two or three weeks is a long time to have nothing on when you’re used to having a schedule when you’re touring [laughs]. It gives me a bit of free time to go for a walk or a run.

The first leg of Love Always went well?

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It’s always nice when you get asked to do a second leg... you get to see new faces, play new theatres, places you didn’t get to on the first leg.

Obviously I’ve been to Ipswich before and I always get a lovely welcome. I haven’t been there in four years so it’ll be nice to come back.

I’ve fond memories of playing there, it’s a beautiful theatre and the acoustics are fantastic. I’m bringing a new show and get excited about that, especially when it’s a place I haven’t been to for years so it’ll be a great night. I’m really looking forward to it. The tour has been an amazing part of my journey as a solo artist.

Does it still feel strange, being on stage without the rest of Westlife?

It’s very different and from time to time you do have flashbacks of your whole life. In Westlife you’re in a much bigger place and have to use your part of the stage, constantly swapping and changing. Whereas when you’re on a stage like this, you have to fill it yourself and you find out an awful lot more about yourself as a performer and I’ve really enjoyed that process. It’s been six years since Westlife performed but it’s been five since I started performing myself so I’ve really got comfortable with this.

Sometimes, funnily enough, it’s hard to remember what it was like you for this or that [Westlife] song. Now I have really one way to perform them. Westlife is a huge part of my life and history and always will be; those songs will live on no matter what and it’s great to be able to sing them. Every time you do the crowd goes crazy. It brings back so many good memories for me and for the fans, which is more important.

Did you ever wonder if you could be a solo singer?

At the start it was very weird... you’re on your own, you’ve got your band, all your production, stuff like that. You’re still performing and people are coming to see you but they’re buying a ticket to see you. It was definitely daunting.

I was apprehensive about putting on a great show and making sure I could do it. But it’s like anything, you just have to throw yourself in the deep end and just go for it. I did my first shows at the Liverpool Philharmonic and I’ll never forget it. There were a couple of thousand people and it was one of the scariest nights of my life. Five years later I’m still doing what I love.

Last time we spoke, you talked about how music pulled you through your bankruptcy nightmare. Do you think you’d still be performing had you not been hit by the property crash?

I definitely think it happened for a reason. At the time you’re in a different headspace, wondering why did this happen? If it hadn’t would I be the performer I am today? Maybe not and maybe that’s why it happened. Maybe I would’ve taken a couple of years off do something different but I’ve no regrets. When it comes to it, I’m glad it was investments and not something like a sickness in my family. It was something that really made me face the world and go “right, let’s do this” and I had to do it for lots of reasons so thankfully it’s worked out.

I can’t imagine you ever giving up singing?

Definitely not. I look at myself as a singer, as an entertainer more so than I ever was. That minute when you get on stage and the crowd are there... that moment you have with your fans, that special bond, on that night; nobody can take it away from you, you have the memory forever. Everybody’s going home happy - that’s me doing my job. If I don’t put on a good show there’s no point.

What can Ipswich fans expect?

This show, this year, is the best show I’ve done and better than the last in Ipswich [laughs]. It’s a very visual show, upbeat, a lot of surprises. The set list is really strong, the best I’ve ever had by a mile. They’re going to know every single word of every song - unless you’ve never liked Westlife [laughs].

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