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.

Ronan Keating moves Twenty Twenty tour date at York Barbican from 2021 to 2022

RONAN Keating is rearranging his Twenty Twenty UK tour date at York Barbican for a second time, but the title will not change to Twenty Twenty Two.

First moved from June 19 2020 to July 6 2021, the show has been rescheduled to January 23 2022.

A statement on the York Barbican website explains: “It was very much hoped that following the Government’s roadmap-to-lockdown-easing announcement, Ronan’s Twenty Twenty UK tour could take place as scheduled in the summer of 2021.  

“Despite efforts by Ronan’s team working closely with the venues, sadly it will not be possible for these tour dates to take place at this time, and as such the date has been rescheduled to January 23 2022. 

“Ticket holders should hold onto their tickets as they will remain valid for the rescheduled date.”  

The Twenty Twenty tour takes its title from the Twenty Twenty album that Irish boy band graduate Keating released in May 2020 on Decca Records to mark the 20th anniversary of his chart-topping solo debut, Ronan.

Twenty Twenty vision: Ronan Keating wanted to make “a greatest hits of brand new music”

“There’s not a lot of artists that have been lucky enough to do 20 years and still be here,” he said at the time,” appreciative too of sustaining solo and band careers. “I’m very honoured to have had that, so I wanted to mark it with an album like this.”

Dubliner Keating, who turned 44 on March 3, describes Twenty Twenty as “a greatest hits of brand new music”To help his 20th anniversary celebrations, he made two inspired choices: to dive into his back catalogue to revisit three of his biggest hits and, for some new numbers, to call in some friends.

First single One Of A Kind, despite its title, is a duet, wherein the Irishman is joined by Emeli Sandé. “I guess I’ve been known for those first dance songs at weddings and this has me written all over it,” says Keating. “It’s all about the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding and spending the rest of your life together.”

He decided the song demanded a duet partner, and for Keating there was only one choice: the Sunderland-born, Scottish-raised Sandé.“I was completely honoured when Emeli said she’d love to do it,” he says. “I was just blown away by her vocal. She’s obviously got a brilliant voice, and she’s a lovely, warm person, so the personality she’s brought to the song is just incredible.”

For Twenty Twenty, Keating had production assistance from his longstanding wingman, Steve Lipson, who has worked with such big hitters as Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, and Whitney Houston.

Among further collaborations were Love Will Remain with Clare Bowen, The One with Nina Nesbitt, The Big Goodbye with Robbie Williams, Forever And Ever, Amen, with Shania Twain and a 2020 version of When You Say Nothing At All with Alison Krauss.

Ronan Keating last played a York concert in July 2018 with Boyzone at the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend

Over the past 21 years, Keating has chalked up 30 consecutive Top Ten solo singles, 11 studio albums, multiple tours and 20 million records sales, on top of 25 million sold with Boyzone, as well as judging on The X Factor and The Voice in Australia; acting in television drama and film; playing Guy in the romantic Irish hit, Once The Musical, in the West End and co-hosting Magic FM’s breakfast show.

In York, Keating last performed with Boyzone at a York Racecourse Music Showcase post-racing show on July 28 2018 on their 25th anniversary tour. His last solo appearance in the city was at York Barbican on September 21 2016. In 2019,  the dangers posed by a massive thunderstorm led to his open-air solo concert at Castle Howard, near York, on August 4 being cut short.

To check on ticket availability for January 23 2022, go to: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

IN a second change of date, York Rocks Against Cancer is moving from July 17 this summer to January 8 2022.

All tickets remain valid for the new show; please contact your point of purchase with any questions.

Raising vital funds for York Against Cancer, the 7.30pm concert will feature The Emmerdale Band, featuring cast members from the Yorkshire soap opera; singer-songwriter Chris Helme, the former Seahorses frontman; Sister Madly and “the best musicians and singers York has to offer”. Expect a party atmosphere and a fun night.

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.

Ronan Keating’s Twenty Twenty vision is to release album and play York Barbican

The album artwork for Ronan Keating’s new album, released this spring

TWENTY years since releasing his chart-topping debut solo album, Boyzone’s Ronan Keating will mark the anniversary with a new record and tour, taking in York Barbican on June 19.

That night, the Irish boy band graduate will be promoting an album perfectly entitled for this year, Twenty Twenty, out on May 1 on the Decca Records label.

Tickets go on sale on February 21 at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk, on 0203 356 5441 or in person from the Barbican box office.

Dubliner Keating, who will turn 43 on March 3, describes Twenty Twenty as “a greatest hits of brand new music”To help him celebrate the 20th anniversary of his self-titled debut, he made two inspired choices: to dive into his back catalogue torevisit three of his biggest hits and, for some new numbers, call in some friends.

Ronan Keating’s 20th anniversary solo album will be “a greatest hits of brand new music”

First single One Of A Kind, despite its title, is a duet, wherein the Irishman is joined by Emeli Sandé. “I guess I’ve been known for those first dance songs at weddings and this has me written all over it,” says Keating. “It’s all about the night before the wedding, the day of the wedding and spending the rest of your life together.”

He decided the song demanded a duet partner, and for Ronan there was only one choice: the Sunderland-born, Scottish-raised Sandé.“I was completely honoured when Emeli said she’d love to do it,” he says. “I was just blown away by her vocal. She’s obviously got a brilliant voice, and she’s a lovely, warm person, so the personality she’s brought to the song is just incredible.”

Two of a kind: the single cover for One Of A Kind replicates Twenty Twenty except for the addition of Emeli Sande

For Twenty Twenty, Keating had production assistance from his longstanding wingman, Steve Lipson, who has worked with such big hitters as Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, and Whitney Houston. Names of further collaborators and track titles will be revealed in due course, but Keating teases by revealing those collaborators comprise some of his closest musical and chart-topping friends.

Over the past 20 years, Keating has chalked up 30 consecutive Top Ten solo singles, ten studio albums, multiple tours and 20 million records sales on top of 25 million sold with Boyzone, as well as judging on The X Factor and The Voice in Australia; acting in television drama and film; playing Guy in the romantic Irish hit, Once The Musical, in the West End and co-hosting Magic FM’s breakfast show.

Over the past 12 months, he has worked tirelessly on an album that celebrates a longevity he does not take for granted. “There’s not a lot of artists that have been lucky enough to do 20 years and still be here,” he says, appreciative too of sustaining solo and band careers. “I’m very honoured to have had that, so I wanted to mark it with an album like this.”

Ronan Keating last played a York concert in July 2018 with Boyzone at the York Racecourse Music Showcase Weekend

In York, Keating last performed with Boyzone at a York Racecourse Music Showcase post-racing show on July 28 2018 on their 25th anniversary tour. His last solo appearance in the city was at York Barbican on September 21 2016. Last summer, the dangers posed by a massive thunderstorm led to his open-air solo concert at Castle Howard, near York, on August 4 being cut short.