Boyzlife’s Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden to play York Barbican on October 14 after spring release of Old School album

“We cannot wait to get back on the road and this time play Boyzlife original material,” say Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy

BOYZLIFE, the Irish superboyband formed by long-time pals Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden, will play York Barbican on October 14 on their 27-city Old School tour.

Boyzone’s Duffy and Westlife’s McFadden will be performing songs from their upcoming studio album of original material, Old School, alongside multiple hits from their Nineties and Noughties’ boybands.

Boyzone have chalked up six UK number one singles and worldwide sales of 25 million records; Westlife have notched 12 UK and Irish number one singles and four chart-topping albums.

Boyzlife’s debut album, Strings Attached, revisited nine Boyzone and Westlife number ones, performed by Duffy and McFadden with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Angel Studios, London.

Released on July 17 2020, it topped both the UK and Irish iTunes and Amazon music charts and peaked at number 12 in the UK Official Album Chart.

Duffy, 47, and McFadden, 41, wrote and recorded Old School in studio sessions in between last year’s tour dates. Giving a glimpse into what fans can expect of the May 6 release, McFadden says: “Keith and I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s; the sound of that era is what made us want to be musicians in the first place.

The album cover artwork for Boyzlife’s Old School, out on May 6

“When we first started talking about making this record as Boyzlife’s first studio album, we naturally talked about those influences a lot and have loved bringing these familiar sounds into our studio sessions and onto this record and cannot wait to take those songs live.”

Boyzlife add: “Working with our producer Jackson has been an extremely creative process. We went into the studio with lyrics ideas, worked together to find a melodic sound to go with the lyrics and built the songs from there.

“Some things just fit into place and others get chopped and changed until we all agree we are on the right track. We are very excited about this album and can’t wait for people to hear it.”

The track listing will be: Burn For You; first single The One (co-written by McFadden with Guy Chambers); A Little Saving; All This Time; Glory Days; Because I Love Somebody; Coming Back To You; Her;  If I Asked You To Love and Distant Sun.

Boyzlife, who made their York Barbican on October 17 2021, say: “We cannot wait to get back on the road and this time play Boyzlife original material alongside all of our music over the last 25 years. The show will be a Rolla-coaster through old and new songs and we cannot wait to take our fans on the ride.”

Boyzlife’s Old School tour will take in further Yorkshire shows at Sheffield City Hall on September 29 and St George’s Hall, Bradford, on October 15. Box office: York, yorkbarbican.co.uk; Sheffield, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk; Bradford, Bradford-theatres.co.uk.

When two become one as Boyzlife’s Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden sing Boyzone and Westlife songbook at York Barbican

INTERVIEWS done for the day, or so they thought as Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy headed off to The Belfry for a fundraising Parkinson’s Disease golf day, representing Ireland on the morrow.

5pm, Tuesday, no response was forthcoming to CharlesHutchPress’s prearranged phone-call to the Boyzlife boyz.

Messages and phone number left; PR company contacted. No problem, Team Boyzlife would be in touch, and sure enough, at 5.30pm, the interview that had slipped off the bottom of the page was back on, Brian and Keith talking ten to the dozen, voices often overlapping as they travelled towards Sutton Coldfield for the Four Nations tournament.

Apologies for the confusion, they said, offering their explanation, as Team Boyzlife clicked into gear, as they would at The Belfry. “Put the two of us together on the golf course and we become one professional golfer,” jokes Brian.

Likewise, two into one will go on Sunday night at York Barbican in the show where Boyzone and Westlife become one as “the Nineties boyband superstars bring you all of the hits of both bands in one evening”.

Brian, 41, and Keith, 47, first took the Boyzlife show on the road in February and March 2020, selling 35,000 tickets. “But we couldn’t finish the tour because of the first Covid lockdown,” says Brian. “We got through 22 of the 40 shows, and 18 months later we’ve started up again [playing King George’s Hall, Blackburn on October 6].

“For us, it was a break we’d never had before. My fiancée Danielle and I ended up having a baby girl [Ruby, born in May 2021] and starting a family again, and Boyzlife got to write our first original album, which comes out next year. The first single is The One and the second one is ready to go too. We’ve all been fighting which one should go first, so maybe around Christmas for the release.”

Boyzlife have released one album already, July 2020’s Strings Attached, following in the footsteps of the late Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison in being teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO). One difference, Brian and Keith could provide new vocals to nine songs cherry-picked from the catalogue of 18 number one singles shared between Westlife and Boyzone.

“In actual fact,” says Keith, “it was Brian recording his last solo album [February 2019’s Otis] in a tribute to Otis Redding that led to our album. Some of the producers and engineers on that album had been working with the RPO, and they suggested, ‘why don’t you do an album with the RPO too?’.

“The two of us wanted to write an original album but we realised we needed a closing of the past and those Boyzone and Westlife songs are made for an orchestra. We were very lucky to work with them and very pleased with the results.

“Now, within the live show, we have a special section where we’ve recorded songs with the orchestra and we sing them to playbacks. We’ve done that many times in our careers, but never to the accompaniment of 84 musicians in an orchestra with two idiots out front.”

Brian has released five solo albums since leaving Westlife in March 2004, while Keith has completed Boyzone’s Thank You And Goodnight farewell tour, but how and when did they first work together? “I’ll be completely honest with you. It was kind of just getting into a room with a lot of the show being autobiographical and singing only six or seven songs,” recalls Brian.

“We’d never sung together, never worked together, and we picked the easiest songs to sing. Now, when we’re doing the set list, it comes down to tempo and what songs will go together well, and we have to leave out about seven or eight songs, but we still have options as to what to include.

“But we always have to do the biggest-selling songs, like No Matter What, and whenever we sing that song we can’t help but think of Stephen Gately puckering up to sing it.”

So many choices: World Of Our Own; Mandy; Queen Of My Heart; Picture Of You; Words; No Matter What; Uptown Girl; Flying Without Wings; You Raise Me Up; Going Gets Tough; Swear It Again; Father And Son; Love Me For A Reason and My Love.

“But between us we only had six songs that were uptempo!” says Brian. Why? “I guess, if ain’t broke, why fix it? The proof is in the pudding; all those number ones. Everyone else was making up-tempo records when we were the two bands with slow songs.”

Westlife became well known for singing songs sitting down, in the tradition of fellow Irishman Val Doonican in his rocking chair. “That was my nickname from day one. I was ‘Val’ because I wore a red sweater!” admits Brian.

Look at the tour itinerary and you will see the tour dates are divided into clusters between October 6 and December 14. “That’s the difference with the earlier days,” says Keith. “We’re better able to balance our music and family life.

“We both had children when we were young; I have a 21-year-old daughter, Mia, and 25-year-old son, Jay, [Brian has two teenage daughters, Molly and Lilly, with ex-wife Kerry Katona] but Boyzone didn’t get a lot of time off or holiday time.

“We just had to keep cracking on, going to wherever we were having hits, because we were so successful, but now we have a proper balance where we’ll do two or three shows, have some time off, then do some more shows.”

Boyzlife play York Barbican on October 17, 7.30pm, and Hull City Hall on November 5, 7.30pm. Box office: York, at yorkbarbican.co.uk; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk.

Did you know?

MUSICIAN, singer, songwriter, actor, dancer, drummer and television presenter Keith Duffy’s full name is Keith Peter Thomas Francis John Duffy.

More Things To Do in and around York as records are set straight and dark nights lit up. List No. 53, courtesy of The Press, York

Setting the record straight: Adrian Lukis’s roguish George Wickham in Being Mr Wickham at York Theatre Royal

AUTUMN’S fruits are ripe and ready for Charles Hutchinson to pick with no worries about shortages.

Scandal of the week: Being Mr Wickham, Original Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, tonight until Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm, Saturday

ADRIAN Lukis played the vilified George Wickham in the BBC’s television adaptation of Pride And Prejudice 26 years ago this very month.

Time, he says, to set the record straight about Jane Austen’s most charmingly roguish character in his one-man play Being Mr Wickham, co-written with Catherine Curzon.

This is the chance to discover Wickham’s version of famous literary events. What really happened with Mr Darcy? What did he feel about Lizzie? What went on at Waterloo? Not to mention Byron. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Cate Hamer in rehearsal for the SJT and Live Theatre, Newcastle co-production of The Offing. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Play of the week outside York: The Offing, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until October 30

IN a Britain still reeling from the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on an adventure at 16: to walk from his home in Durham to Scarborough, where he hopes to find work, but he never arrives there. 

Instead, up the coast at Robin Hood’s Bay, a chance encounter with the bohemian, eccentric Dulcie Piper leads to a lifelong, defining friendship. She introduces him to the joys of good food and wine, art and literature; he helps her lay to rest a ghost in Janice Okoh’s adaptation of Benjamin Myers’s novel for the SJT and Live Theatre, Newcastle. Box office: 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.  

Simon Wright: Conducting York Guildhall Orchestra at York Barbican

Classic comeback: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm

YORK Guildhall Orchestra return to the concert stage this weekend after the pandemic hiatus with a programme of operatic favourites, conducted by Simon Wright.

The York musicians will be joined by Leeds Festival Chorus and two soloists, soprano Jenny Stafford, and tenor Oliver Johnston, to perform overtures, arias and choruses by Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Rossini, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Adam Kay: Medic, author and comedian, on visiting hours at Grand Opera House, York, on Sunday

Medical drama of the week: Adam Kay, This Is Going To Hurt, Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor, Grand Opera House, Sunday, 8pm

ADAM Kay, medic turned comic, shares entries from his diaries as a junior doctor in his evening of horror stories from the NHS frontline, savvy stand-up, witty wordplay and spoof songs.

His award-winning show, This Going To Hurt, has drawn 200,000 people to sell-out tours, the Edinburgh Fringe and West End runs, and the book of the same name topped the best sellers list for more than a year and is soon to be a BBC drama. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or at atgtickets.com/york.

Boyzlife: Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden unite in Boyzone and Westlife songs at York Barbican

Irish night of the week: Boyzlife, York Barbican, Sunday, 7.30pm; doors, 6.30pm

PUT Irish boy band graduates Brian McFadden, from Westlife, and Keith Duffy, from Boyzone, together and they become Boyzlife, as heard on the July 2020 album Strings Attached, recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

On tour with a full band, but not the ‘Phil’, they choose songs from a joint back catalogue of 18 number one singles and nine chart-topping albums.

So many to squeeze in…or not: No Matter What, Flying Without Wings, World Of Our Own, Queen Of My Heart, Picture Of You, Uptown Girl, You Raise Me Up, Going Gets Tough, Swear It Again, Father And Son, Love Me For A Reason and My Love. Find out on Sunday. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk

Thumper: Dublin band play Ad Nauseam and much more at Fulford Arms, York, on Tuesday

 Loudest gig of the week: Thumper, Fulford Arms, York, Tuesday, 8pm

THUMPER, the cult Dublin band with two thumping drummers, are back on the road after you know what, promoting a 2021 mix of their single Ad Nauseam: a cautionary tale of repetition, vanity and becoming too close to what you know will eat you.

From the Irish city of the equally visceral Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital, Thumper have emerged with their ragged guitars and “bratty, frenetic punk rock” (Q magazine).

Now their debut album is taking shape after the band were holed up in their home studio for months on end. The Adelphi, Hull, awaits on Wednesday.

At the fourth time of planning: Mary Coughlan, Pocklington Arts Centre, Tuesday, 8pm

Mary Coughlan: Life Stories in song at Pocklington Arts Centre

GALWAY jazz and blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan had to move her Pocklington show three times in response to the stultifying pandemic.

“Ireland’s Billie Holliday” twice rearranged the gig during 2020, and did so again this year in a switch from April 23 to October 19.

At the heart of Mary’s concert, fourth time lucky, will still be Life Stories, her 15th album, released on the wonderfully named Hail Mary Records last September. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Spiers & Boden: Resurrected folk duo head to Pocklington on Wednesday

Double act of the week ahead: Spiers & Boden, Pocklington Arts Centre, Wednesday, 7.30pm

AFTER years of speculation, much-loved English folk duo Spiers & Boden are back together, releasing the album Fallow Ground and bringing a live show to Pocklington this autumn with special guests. 

First forming a duo in 2001, John Spiers, now 46, and Jon Boden, 44, became leading lights in big folk band Bellowhead, resting the duo in 2014, before Bellowhead headed into the sunset in 2016. Solo endeavours ensued but now Spiers & Boden return. Box office: 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Matilda takes on Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical Jr

Musical of the week: Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical Jr, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, October 20 to 24, 7.30pm; 2pm, 4.30pm, Saturday; 2pm, Sunday.

ONLY the last few tickets are still available for York Stage Musicals’ York premiere of the Broadway Junior version of Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story.

Matilda has astonishing wit, intelligence, imagination…and special powers! Unloved by her cruel parents, she nevertheless impresses teacher Miss Honey, but mean headmistress Miss Trunchbull hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who fail to abide by her rules. Hurry, hurry to the box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntheatre.co.uk.

People We Love: Curtailed by the second Covid lockdown, the York Mediale exhibition has a second life at York Minster from this weekend

Worth noting too:

PEOPLE We Love, the York Mediale exhibition, reopening at York Minster from Saturday. York Design Week, full of ideas, October 20 to 26, at yorkdesign week.com; Light Night Leeds 2021, with a Back To Nature theme for this art and lights festival tonight and tomorrow, at whatson.leeds.gov.uk; Live At Leeds gigs across 20 venues with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Sports Team, The Night Café, The Big Moon, Dream Wife, Poppy Adjuda, The Orielles and Thumper, at liveatleeds.com.

Boyzone meet Westlife as Brian and Keith bring Boyzlife to York Barbican in October

Keith Duffy and Brian McFadden are…Boyzlife

THERE’S still life in the boyz! Boyzlife, the supergroup of Irish boy band graduates Brian McFadden, from Westlife, and Boyzone’s Keith Duffy, will play York Barbican on October 15.

Their live show is drawn from a joint back catalogue of 18 number one singles, nine chart-topping albums and combined global record sales of 60 million. Expect to hear World Of Our Own, Mandy, Uptown Girl and Flying Without Wings among many fan favourites.

First playing together in 2016, Boyzlife embarked on part one of their 2020 travels on February 1 at Hull Bonus Arena, selling more than 35,000 tickets for a 32-date tour that will run until March 28, with limited tickets still available for Sheffield City Hall on March 24 (box office, 0114 2 789 789 or sheffieldcityhall.co.uk). 
Part two of the tour is booked in for September 1 to November 1, taking in further Yorkshire dates at Victoria Theatre, Halifax, on September 10, The Dome, Doncaster, October 17, and Scarborough Spa, October 23.

McFadden, 39, featured on all Westlife’s number one singles and albums before leaving in 2004, since when he has released five albums and 17 singles in a solo career launched with the UK number one Real To Me in September 2004. 

Duffy, 45,finished touring with Boyzone on October 25 last year on their Thank You And Goodnight Tour after six UK number one singles and five number one albums in a career where he also has branched out into acting in Coronation Street, Broken Nation and Fair City.

York tickets go on sale from today on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office; Halifax, 01422 351158 or victoriatheatre.co.uk; Doncaster, 01302 370777 and 08442 770700 or dcit.co.uk; Scarborough, 01723 821888 or scarbroughspa.co.uk.