BOYZONE star Keith Duffy has told of the sadness he’ll feel when the band finish their final-ever concert.
The Irish band last month announced they would play a 13-date arena tour – including the SSE Hydro – early in 2019 before calling time on their 25-year career.
They’ll be playing some of their 21 top-40 hits as well as material from their final album, Thank You & Goodnight, which includes collaborations with Ed Sheeran and Gary Barlow.
Keith will be joined by Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch, with only Stephen Gately, who died suddenly in 2009 of a congenital heart defect, missing from the original line-up.
“It’s going to be a very sad moment when we come off after that last concert,” Keith told iN10.
“I remember back to 1999 or 2000 when Ronan announced he wanted to take at least a year off to do solo projects.
“On the last date we played, in Dublin, I wasn’t ready to hang up my boots, I felt there was a lot of work left to be done.
“There was a real feeling of sadness that night over the break-up and it took me months to come to terms with it and understand that my life was going to be very different.
“For a start I’d be waking up in my own bed every morning rather than being on a plane or in a hotel. It was amazing to get the chance to do it again when we got back together in 2008.
“I never thought I’d get to hear that roar you get from a crowd before you go on stage again. But this time it will be the end of an era and it will be tough.”
While the end is now very much nigh, Keith clearly remembers where it all began.
Hundreds of hopefuls answered a newspaper advert by Louis Walsh who was looking to form an “Irish Take That”.
“Most of those auditioning sang George Michael’s Careless Whisper and I showed up and did Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy,” smiles Keith.
“In fact, I think I took my shirt off while I was doing it!”
Fans will get a chance to see the band well before their farewell tour performance as they will be headlining Scotfest on Friday and Saturday.
Boyzone will be taking to the stage at Ingliston alongside Liberty X, East 17, Five and B*Witched.
Keith admits performing north of the border is always a thrill.
“I can’t wait for Scotfest as it’s always good to be back on stage with the boys and Scottish audiences are always the best.
“I think it’ll be a cracking day out and hopefully we’ll even get a bit of nice weather.”
Even though it’s nine years since Stephen’s untimely passing, Keith says his loss is still keenly felt.
“We never do a show without taking at least a few minutes to reflect and remember Stephen and let the audience do that too.
“Talking about him and dedicating a song to him helps us with the loss. We celebrate his life, we don’t mourn any more.”
With a quarter of a century in the business, Keith says there have been many astonishing highs.
“We really do feel blessed. It’s only when you’re not working that you get the time to reminisce and appreciate the opportunities you’ve been given.
“We’ve performed with some of our heroes including Pavarotti, the Bee Gees, BB King and Joe Cocker, U2, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie.
“We’ve lived a charmed life.”
Keith has, of course, long had another performing passion.
A successful acting career has run alongside his singing, including playing Ciaran McCarthy in Coronation Street, starting back in 2002.
More recently X Factor star Shayne Ward won great acclaim for his performances on the soap and Keith says he likes to think he helped blaze a trail for singers making the transition.
“I believe I helped open a lot of doors,” added Keith. “Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet started the trend in EastEnders and I was one of the first from the music business to go into Coronation Street.
“Then the likes of Kym Marsh came in and is still there and has carved out a nice career as an actress.”
Scotfest, The Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh, Fri and Sat, scotfestuk.com