Mark Feehily is hopeful Westlife’s ‘biggest gig’ of their lives can go ahead later this summer.
The band are pencilled in to play two massive gigs in Wembley Stadium this August and the singer says they will be up on that stage as long as they’re allowed to.
‘We’ll be under the control of guidelines,’ he explained while chatting to Amy Huberman on the Mamia & Me podcast. ‘I hope it happens.’
‘I think for us and, I can tell, by our fans, we all need a bloody day out together.’
‘At the moment Wembley is on in London which is one of the biggest gigs of our lives. Its like ‘either the biggest gig of your lives is gonna happen or its not’ and the closer we get I’m like ‘is it happening?’
‘Everyone is asking me and we’ll do the gig if we can but we won’t do it if there’s any risk or danger or anything like that. We just don’t know yet.’
‘We will be on that stage if we’re allowed to.’
It’s certainly been a strange time for artists around the world who haven’t had the opportunity to perform to loyal fans in the longest time but despite the unexpected career break, Mark has been enjoying the slower pace of life the global health pandemic has forced him to embrace.
And that is largely because of his darling 20-month-old daughter Layla who he shares with his fiancé Cailean O’Neill. Certainly the last time Mark was on tour, when Layla was only a couple of months old, he found himself missing her terribly and longing to be home.
‘We went away for two weeks not too long after Layla was born and by the end of it I was like, just get me home now, what the hell am I doing, is this worth it?’
While he might have fretted about the pandemic putting band plans on hold in the beginning, Mark says he chose to focus on the positives – an abundance of precious time with his daughter.
‘I’d find myself lying on a mat in Sligo with Little Baby Bum on the TV, the music playing in the background, and it’s the middle of the week and I’ve just had a coffee and Laya was there and she was crawling around, and I was just like’ I could be in another country and I might not be getting this moment, I might have lost this moment and this week and the next week. I have a motto of just thinking about the positive things.’
‘I was thinking ‘there’s a lot of people that are losing jobs, businesses closing down; I’m lying on the floor, playing with my daughter, listening to kids nursery rhymes and I’m happy out because nothing bad has happened to me through COVID and I’m just grateful that I’m not in the position that some people are, their world has crumbled around them.’
The 41-year-old admitted there was a time when he found it difficult to enjoy time off but these days, he’s learned to savour the moment and make the most of his time.
‘I would have started getting itchy feet if I was at home for too long, say if we had a couple of months away from the band. Whereas now I’m like, this is enough.’ I wake up in the morning, I’m a dad and then I got to bed at night. That’s actually enough in my day.’
‘Before Layla came, I kind of felt this guilt and need — I’m wasting my life, I’m not doing enough and I could be doing all this extra stuff. Even though I’m doing the band and that’s going great, I could be doing stuff as an individual and putting pressure on myself in that way. One thing that I was pretty happy about is that lockdown took away my ability to run out the door with a cup of coffee in my hand to try and do stuff.’
‘I always used to be away from my family, my mother, my father, my two brothers but now my family are with me every day when I wake up because my family are my other half and my daughter. I have my family here with me every day.’
When the time does come for him to get back on the road, Mark hopes it’s something she will adapt to adding: ‘There’s no blueprint for good parenting. Layla just happens to have a dad that’s in a band that does gigs all around the place. Hopefully that’s something, in a measured way, that she can adapt to. As long as the time spent together is ‘quality’ time, Mark says that is the most important thing of all.’
For Father’s Day, the trio have no big plans but it’s the little moments Mark is looking forward to most, going out for a walk on the beach hand-in-hand or having a bite to eat: ‘Walking along the footpath with my kid and my other half, that’s all I kinda want and the simplify of that. That’s probably that has come from lockdown because before we’d be like ‘we’ll go to Dublin and get a hotel room and it’ll be Fathers Day and we’ll get cupcakes made’ and all that stuff.’