Westlife really are one of the biggest pop bands on the planet. Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Nicky Byrne and Shane Filan have achieved an incredible amount over the last two decades with 12 albums. All of which have made the Top 3 in the UK charts. A whopping 16 Number 1 singles and plenty of World Records.
To celebrate the boys preparing to hit the road on their sell-out ‘The Wild Dreams’ Tour, we’ve taken a look back at some of Westlife’s biggest moments throughout their career – from classic songs to legendary albums. Enjoy!
1998: Westlife is born
Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan knew each other from school, forming a pop group with fellow students Derrick Lacey, Graham Keighron, and Michael Garrett called Six As One in 1997, soon changing their name to IOYOU. When Mark’s mum Mae Filan got in touch with Louis Walsh, who managed Boyzone, and he took them on – but when they got shot down by Simon Cowell, Louis fired Derrick, Graham and Michael, and held auditions to replace them.
They recruited Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden, and officially became Westside in July 1998 – quickly changing to Westlife when they discovered a band already called Westside.
The band signed a £4 million deal with RCA Records, and they were the opening act for both Boyzone and Backstreet Boys, with Ronan Keating of Boyzone co-managing the group with Louis. Their first EP, ‘Swear It Again’, was recorded in 1999, which went to Number 1 in the UK.
1999: Debut album and follow-up
The band’s self-titled debut album ‘Westlife’ was released in November 1999, containing singles ‘Flying Without Wings’, ‘Seasons in the Sun’ and ‘More Than Words’, topping the charts in Ireland and going to Number 2 in the UK.
The band released their second album ‘Coast to Coast’ a year later, spawning singles ‘Against All Odds’, ‘What Makes a Man’ and ‘When You’re Looking Like That’. It went to Number 1 in the UK and Ireland, beating Spice Girls’ ‘Forever’, and the boys embarked on their ‘Where Dreams Come True Tour’ in 2001.
2001: Third album and BRIT Awards
Westlife’s third album ‘World of Our Own’ was released just one year later, containing singles ‘Uptown Girl’, ‘Evergreen’ and the album’s titular song. It went to Number 1 in the UK and Ireland, and they sold over 12 million records in just three years. Westlife won Best Pop Act at the BRIT Awards in both 2001 and 2002.
Their ‘Unbreakable – The Greatest Hits Vol. 1’ was released in 2002, also going to Number 1 in both the UK and Ireland and Westlife then went on ‘The Greatest Hits Tour’ in 2003. They released their fourth album ‘Turnaround’ later that year, spawning singles ‘Hey Whatever’, ‘Mandy’ and ‘Obvious’ – it went to Number 1 in the UK and Ireland.
2004: Bryan McFadden’s departure
Bryan announced that he was leaving the group in March 2004 to spend more time with his family, as he had two young daughters with then-wife Kerry Katona (pictured). He also reverted back to using the spelling Brian. His departure came three weeks before the band went on their ‘Turnaround Tour’, with Brian watching in the audience.
The remaining members carried on without him, releasing fifth album ‘…Allow Us To Be Frank’ in 2004 which was a Rat Pack tribute album and contained many covers by Frank Sinatra, going to Number 3 in the UK. They released sixth album ‘Face to Face’ in 2005, containing ‘You Raise Me Up’, seventh album ‘The Love Album’ in 2006, which contained covers of famous love songs and eighth album ‘Back Home’ in 2007.
2008: 10th anniversary of Westlife and hiatus
To celebrate their 10-year anniversary, Westlife put on a show called ’10 Years of Westlife’ at Croke Park in Dublin in June 2008. In July, Louis announced that the group would be taking a hiatus for one year until July 2009.
They released 10th album ‘Where We Are’ in November 2009, and they won a Guinness World Record as the top selling album group of the 21st century. Westlife took part in the 2010 charity single ‘Everybody Hurts’ to raise money for victims of the Haiti earthquake, along with Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Take That and Kylie Minogue among many others. Their eleventh album ‘Gravity’ was released in November 2010, going to Number 1 in Ireland and Number 3 in the UK.
2011: Split and ‘The Farewell Tour’
In March 2011, Westlife split from Simon Cowell’s label Syco, and released their album ‘Greatest Hits’ in November 2011, and despite rumours that Brian could reunite with the band for an interview, this never happened. Westlife announced their ‘The Greatest Hits Tour’ or ‘The Farewell Tour’ on 18th October 2011, and announced their split a day later.
The statement read, ‘The decision is entirely amicable and after spending all of our adult life together so far, we want to have a well-earned break and look at new ventures. We would like to thank our fans who have been with us on this amazing journey and are part of our family too. We never imagined when we started out in 1998 that 14 years later we would still be recording, touring and having hits together. It has been a dream come true for all of us. Kian, Mark, Nicky and Shane.’
2012 – 2017: Solo ventures and reunion rumours
After the group’s split, all four went onto solo endeavours. Shane released three solo albums: ‘You and Me’ (2013), ‘Right Here’ (2015) and ‘Love Always’ (2017). Mark released his debut solo album ‘Fire’ in October 2015, performing as an opening act for Mariah Carey and Wet Wet Wet. He released his second solo album ‘Christmas’ in December 2017.
Kian released debut solo album ‘Home’ (2014), became a coach on The Voice of Ireland and won I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2013. Nicky released his solo album ‘Sunlight’ in 2016 and represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in the same year, sadly failing to advance to the final. He also took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2012.
Throughout the years between 2011 and 2017, there were many rumours about Westlife reuniting, and whilst they initially said they would never get back together, each member started to hint that they’d like to reunite as the years went on.
2018: Reunion at last
Westlife announced that they were getting back together in October 2018, revealing that they were going on tour and bringing out new music. Brian confirmed in an interview with Closer magazine that he would not be taking part.
The band released their first single as ‘Westlife 2.0’ in January 2019 – ‘Hello My Love’, which was co-written by Ed Sheeran. They performed it at the National Television Awards in 2019, and released the album ‘Spectrum’ in November 2019, which went to Number 1 in the UK and Ireland. Ed also co-wrote four other tracks on the album including ‘Better Man’. They went on ‘The Twenty Tour’ in 2019.
2019: The Twenty Tour
The Twenty Tour began on 22 May 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the SSE Arena and concluded on 15 September 2019 in Hyde Park, London, consisting of 33 shows in Europe and 17 shows in Asia.The Cirque Du Soleil designing team, which specialises in aerial acrobats, were hired for the tour.
2020: Stadiums in the Summer Tour
Westlife were set to embark on their ‘Stadiums in the Summer Tour’ in June 2020, visiting 21 venues around Europe including Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Cardiff City Stadium and Wembley Stadium among others. Sadly, it was cancelled due to Government advice around the Coronavirus pandemic.
2022: The Wild Dreams Tour
Westlife will once again be hitting the road this year. The Wild Dreams Tour will see Westlife get closer to their fans than ever before.
The Band say: “We are incredibly excited to announce news of The Wild Dreams Tour and to finally get back performing to all of our fans at the UK’s biggest arenas.
“After the last 18 months, this tour means more to us than any that we’ve ever done before. It will be a massive celebration and will bring us closer to our fans than ever before. We’re planning some spectacular shows which will include all of our greatest hits and some special surprises.”
News of the 2022 tour marks the beginning of a packed schedule for Westlife. Shane, Nicky, Mark and Kian have established themselves as the world’s biggest band of the 21st century, having sold over 55 million records worldwide and are the only band to have their first seven singles enter the UK chart at No.1. They also have the most singles of any artist to debut at No.1 in the UK. Overall the band have had an incredible 14 No.1 singles, behind only Elvis Presley and The Beatles. They have had 33 No.1 albums worldwide and as a live act they have sold five million concert tickets worldwide and counting.