Westlife star Nicky Byrne reflected on the band’s history ahead of their first performance at Wembley Stadium, saying the Irish group’s hiatus led to “two completely different bands”.
Byrne, 43, found fame with Westlife along with Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan and Brian McFadden. The band broke up in 2012 after 14 years of success, before reuniting in 2018.
Talking about the changes he’s witnessed since the band’s formation in 1998, including the departure of McFadden, 42, in 2004, Byrne told the PA news agency: bands.
“The band we are now and the band we were from ’98 onwards are two completely different bands.
“Obviously we are the same people, and all those hits that we had in our early years are fundamental to the continuity of our career. However, we had a seven-year sabbatical in the midst of all this and I think we all grew up in that period.
“We got together as kids, we did 14 straight years, we lost Brian after five years, then we had eight years without Brian, people forget it was so long after Brian that we didn’t stop.
“And then when we split up in 2012, we literally looked each other in the eye and said: this is it.”
He added: “So when we were all ready to get back into the band, we all took a different approach to how we saw Westlife 2.0.”
Reflecting on the band’s legacy, which has secured 14 UK number-one singles and eight number-one albums, Byrne looked to the growth of their fan base.
“We came back on stage after seven years and we saw at the shows in 2019, the people, the fans, also seem to have grown up and enjoyed the break,” he told PA.
“All of a sudden we have guys coming to shows, husbands, boyfriends, partners with our younger fans who are now female and boys who are now male. I do not know how to explain.
“It’s almost like a family day, now there are kids going to shows who have no idea who Westlife is but their parents are bringing them, there are guys coming in saying ‘they never liked Westlife but this is a big night out. ”. So do we change? I would say unrecognizable.”
Looking ahead to the band’s future, Byrne hasn’t ruled out using AI technology, similar to the one used by Abba at their current Abba Voyage concert residency and recently praised by Sir Mick Jagger.
He said: “I haven’t seen the Abba show in real life, but I’ve seen clips online and it looks phenomenal. I don’t think Westlife is at any stage where we need to consider something like that and we’re nowhere near the legacy or level of Abba or the Rolling Stones either, but we keep surprising ourselves.
“I mean, we’re doing Wembley Stadium for the first time in our lives… And there are things in time where you go, ‘this isn’t slowing down’.”
Ahead of playing at Wembley Stadium for the first time on August 6 – which will also be broadcast live in UK cinemas – Byrne added: “We are ready for one of the most, if not the most iconic, stadiums in the world.
“We don’t take it lightly because we’ve never played at Wembley Stadium. All the things we’ve been through, 23 years, everything from first place to losing a band member, marriages and kids.
Adding: “We’re leading up to something quite emotional, actually.”
Westlife – Live From Wembley Stadium will air at 8:30pm on Saturday, August 6th. There will be encore screenings at 3pm in theaters on Sunday, August 7.
For more information and to find movie locations, visit westlifeincinemas.com.