Former boy band member, solo star, X-Factor judge, actor, husband, father – in the last few years Ronan Keating’s stock has certainly risen. His first of two sold-out shows at the Adelaide Festival Theatre were proof the 34 year old Irish singer still has it.
Sure, the moves were less energetic than his choreographed Boyzone days, and the songs have definitely moved over to adult contemporary from his edgy boy band love ballads, but anyone questioning Keating’s place on the X-Factor judging panel need only to see him live to know why he has a presence light years ahead of the show’s contestants and wannabes.
Starting with ‘Believe Again’ from 2010s Duets album, the night had a distinct Irish flavour. It was a Ronan Keating show after all. From Sharon Corr’s support set (and duet with Ronan later in the night) to the string quartet and maybe an Irish jig or two, the show screamed of Ronan Keating. This was his show; not just him fronting a band. And while some of the women in the audience may disagree with me, the highlight of the show (well, for me anyway) was the amazing string quartet; the ballads and uptempo numbers were totally transformed by the addition of live strings. And live performers, take note: synthesized strings on keyboards sound (and generally are) cheap.
Wavering in between his more well-known songs (‘Life is a Rollercoaster’, ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ and ‘that song from Notting Hill’) to a number of Burt Bacharach covers, Keating chose his songs wisely. I may be young but I can still appreciate the Bacharach’s incomparable songwriting in songs like ‘Walk on By’ and ‘Arthur’s Theme’, and Ronan's renditions of the soul standards were impeccable.
Moving onto a sombre note, Keating recounted the death of fellow Boyzone member Stephen Gately, telling the audience the band felt it ‘right’ to release the album Brother after Gately’s death. He later dedicated ‘One More Song’ to ‘the voice, the one and only Whitney Houston’
Mr Keating may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and sure, I did stand out amongst a sea of women and screaming girls, but one thing that certainly didn’t surprise was Ronan’s stage presence and live prowess. If you go to a Ronan Keating show, you’re know in for a night of sophistication, and performance of a world class calibre. And zero auto-tune. Nada!
Photos by John Goodridge