Shane Filan, flying solo…

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

For those of you not in the know, Shane Filan is one of the former lead singers of the Irish boy band Westlife. A couple of years ago they disbanded and now Shane is embarking on a solo career.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Back in the day, Westlife was huge, they sold over 50 million records worldwide, 14 number-one singles in the United Kingdom, a total of 26 UK top ten singles over their 14-year career and far to many awards to list here.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Quite often, when an artist comes from such a pedigree, you’d expect to see an individual with a mightier than thou swagger. Not so with Shane, impressively, he was humble, friendly and down to earth, nothing stuck up about him.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

I’m not a big Westlife fan, but this music is not Westlife. This has more depth, a pleasant and interesting mix of pop with a little bit of soul, country and traditional Irish music, very nice.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

On-stage they had acoustic guitars, an upright bass, a violin and a mandolin, not your typical pop songs instruments. It’s his first album and world tour as a solo artist, and he’s emerging as someone to be reckoned with.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

“This is the last show of this tour, we picked Philippines as the last stop,” he said to the Manila crowd attending his “You and Me” Asian Tour.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

I was also impressed with his actual performance. When most would expect a half-hearted show for such a meager crowd, maybe 2000 or so fans, (At one of the final Westlife gigs, in Croke Park, their 82,300 capacity show sold out in a record-breaking 5 minutes!), instead, it was mostly high-energy, upbeat and lots of fun. His past experience was obvious, a consummate professional on-stage, still demonstrating an authentic boyish charm.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie
You would think that someone coming from such great heights of success would be financially stable, well surprisingly, quite the opposite. Shane was forced to file for bankruptcy after falling victim to the Irish property crash. He’s had some tumultuous times and is now back on track. His autobiography, ‘My Side of Life’ is due out next month and charts the singer’s struggles.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

I enjoyed the acoustic portion of the concert, something closer akin to the sound of today’s indie folk rock bands, and it even appeared that they may have borrowed their stage outfits from Mumford and Sons or the Lumineers.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

He donned some shades for his version of “Blurred Lines”, which basically mimicked the original.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Photographically the lighting was well balanced, nothing over the top, they kept it simple. Unfortunately, photo-pit access was for only the first two songs, and it’s usually three but they had some last minute changes.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Would have been wonderful to have access to the pit during the whole show, or at least portions of the concert, like when the band really stepped it up, or when he sang a duet with Klarisse.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

He performed with passion, for sure. He even accommodated a shouted-from-the-crowd request, which is rare, and they sang a few lines from “Beautiful in White”, which wasn’t on the planned setlist. I’d just like to see a setlist with more originals, far less cover songs for my taste.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

“Shane Filan has one of the greatest voices out there,” said Louis Walsh, although you’d expect such a comment from his manager, he really does have a suburb voice. Throughout the entire concert he was right on the money, in perfect tune, singing his heart out. You could feel the emotion in the room when he sang “You Raise Me Up and “Flying Without Wings.” the crowd loved it.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

He brought a fan on-stage, a typical stunt you see these days, but the fan he choose was not from the the cushy VIP section, as most performers do, rather he choose someone far away from the stage. And he took a few moments to survey the crowd, and made a wise choice, the women was holding a banner “Today’s my birthday. Can I get a hug?” Well, she did.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Before the show ended, he mentioned he’d be back. “I’m so glad that the Philippines was my last show. I’ll see you again next year with a brand new album, 2015. With my new album, next year, Philippines, you’re gonna sing with me again,” he said. I can’t wait to hear his next album and if you missed the concert, don’t worry, he’ll be back.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Shane had also told the crowd, that it would be the last show for their drummer, Fishcake Jackson, who was leaving the band. I found this image interesting, after their first bow, Fishcake, almost intuitively stepped away, while the rest of the band looked on. For just a moment, you could see their hearts on their sleeves, before enjoying the final accolades from the jubilated crowd.

IRocktography, music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Special thanks going out to the gang at Midas Promotions, nice work as usual…

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