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Live review

Boyzone, Jessica Clemmons 

Wembley Arena

added: 23 Dec 2013 // gig date: 21 Dec 2013
reviewer: David Spencer

Boyzone, Jessica Clemmons - Wembley Arena - Printable version
Landing a support slot for the comeback Boyzone tour is a bit of a coup for Texan born Jessica Clemmons - a real chance to establish herself a strong UK following - and her appearance at Wembley Arena showed she wasn't going to let the opportunity go to waste. Her opening set was the most impressive part of a slightly bizarre evening - but we will come back to that later.

Clemmons' appearance on this tour comes as she looks to move her sound closer to her traditional Texas upbringing - and for her latest EP she has brought in country stalwart Jeff Cohen (The Band Perry, Sugarland) and other Nashville mainstays. Her powerful vocal lends itself to the type of power-ballad that Celine Dion and Cher previously did so well with - but equally she can match the likes of Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill with these country ballads.

Plenty of that new material is performed - with Love Like That, What If and Single Tonight sounding terrific as she gets into her stride. Her own songs are broken up with a 90s medley of some of her favourite songs from the decade, with Cher's Believe and Eternal's I Wanna Be The Only One getting the crowd singing. Clemmons' work on the crowd is impressive and she makes the support slot look easier than it actually is. She also does a splendid cover of Katy Perry's Roar - which the mostly female audience love.

This Boyzone tour comes almost 20 years after they first hit the charts. It's actually 19 years since Love Me For A Reason first took the boy-band onto Top of the Pops but BZ20 is a much better marketing tool than BZ19. A grand opening with video of the (new) band singing Nothing Without You launches the concert, with a grand staircase adorning the stage - before the boys (now men) appear at the top to loud cheers. The band's best song then properly opens the set with a storming rendition of Picture Of You.

The four are sounding and looking good - with Keith Duffy in-particular retaining his boyish and cheeky charm. Newer songs (from 2010) Ruby and Gave It All Away are placed alongside previous covers like Baby Can I Hold You Tonight and When The Going Gets Tough. But soon the evening turns, with a section donated to memories of Stephen Gately.

Ronan Keating makes reference at the beginning of the segment to media reports that they wouldn't remember their former band mate during the shows, saying that they have to ignore what the press say. However they then go to extremes to mark his departure, with 10 minutes sat around a table drinking wine and sharing anecdotes. By the end it feels like an awkward wake, and you almost feel you should leave. The sentiment is understandable - and the loss of Gately has been tragic for the band, but they have recorded an album since and also toured. A classier and more subtle nod to their late band member may have been preferred.

It is hard to regain that early excitement after that - and it doesn't help when they perform their first ever Christmas song, The Hour Before Christmas. On the plus side - Love Will Save The Day - their latest single - sounds terrific, and re-energises the audience. The likes of No Matter What and Love Me For A Reason are saved for the end, by which time that awkward wake is forgotten - just about.

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3 stars

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