"I will arise now and......applaud Westlife." These might have been the words of the immortal bard, WB Yeats, had he somehow managed to circumvent the boundaries of the space time continuum and materialised at last evening's sellout concert at his old favourite haunt, Lissadell House.
10,000 fans came to hear, see and join with their idols to celebrate the Sligo band's homecoming gig, the first in seven years. They were not to be disappointed.
Having first being treated to the excellent voice, music and strong stage presence of Genn Cal, a brother-in-law of Westlife's Shane Filan, it was time to get a first-hand, and up-close perspective on Jodie Albert's new band, Wonderland. Managed by husband and Westlife member, Kian Egan and by Westlife's own manager, Louis Walsh, they gave a performance worthy of the magic of the Sligo night. Again the fans were not disappointed. Although, men at the concert were totally outnumbered by the opposite sex, this all-girl performance raised their spirits and increased their heart rate to a palpable level.
The audience had travelled to the venue from near and far to experience the concert in the specially constructed amphitheatre at Sligo's best known tourist attraction, albeit temporarily closed, Lissadell House. From the moment they arrived onto the main Sligo-Bundoran road, by car or coach, they entered the realm and control of a finely tuned operation. Polite and courteous Gardai (Irish police) directed all to their appointed free carparks. From there, on foot for the short walk to Lissadell, they were again directed by equally polite security personnel and stewards into the enclosure that housed the stage, seating and a host of food and beverage stands.
The happy and enthusiastic crowd were treated to a fantastic choice of tasty temptations including, organic burgers, German bratwurst, Chinese take-away, oysters, chips, champagne, wine, soft drinks and Heineken. All reasonably priced. No rip-offs at Lissadell. Cleaning crews were constantly ensuring any piece of litter, no matter how small, was picked and dispatched to bin heaven.
SLIGO TODAY spoke to a vast number of fans to get their reaction to the organisation, ambiance and style of the venue, which as the evening light faded, saw the magnificence of Lissadell House as a multi-coloured floodlit backdrop. The words from the audience were simple, magic, fantastic, brilliant, savage, wow, mental. That said it all. All praised the organisers and all wanted to see more concerts at this venue, idyllically trapped between Lissadell and the Atlantic.
RESCUE ME: These fans were delighted to 'be rescued' by Sligo firemen. Photo:SligoToday.ie
Westlife's appearance on stage saw the fans erupt into a cacophony of excited adoration and from the first song ,they joined in, danced in the aisles and cried with joy as their dream act rolled out hit after hit. The fans went wild when Kian hinted that they'd love to come back next year.
A mid-concert rain shower did nothing to dampen the spirits of the appreciative audience and the rainbow appearing behind the stage added to the magic of the event.
All too soon it was all over, hopefully not to await another seven-year gap to again see these wonderful ambassadors of Sligo Town and County, and Ireland.
SLIGO TODAY can exclusively reveal that Lissadell House and Gardens will re-open to the public for August, September and the October Bank Holiday. More later.
Tonight and tomorrow night will see poet, crooner and septuagenarian troubadour, Leonard Cohen take to the stage to entertain what is expected to be a somewhat more, but equally enthusiastic, mature audience. SLIGO TODAY will be there to bring you a report and photographs.
Some videos have already been uploaded to YouTube. Here'a few, including the Mexican Wave which has become a feature of Westlife's concerts. Band member Nicky Byrne asked for a video of the wave to be uploaded to the social video site. See it below.
Subsequent reports of mayhem for coach passengers leaving the venue emerged later. The organisers confirmed to SLIGO TODAY that "Yes, there were problems which we believe we have now overcome. remember, this was a 'green field' operation, a first time for Lissadell. There were bound to be teething problems, now in conjunction with the Gardai, thankfully they have been rectified."