WESTLIFE star Kian Egan can’t wait to get to Leeside for the band’s two dates at Pairc Ui Chaoimh next August for what will be the band’s only Irish concerts in 2020.
Speaking exclusively to The Echo Downtown, Kian said that Westlife’s Cork gigs had always been special and he was in no doubt that the two shows on Leeside next year would be no different.
“We are all really looking forward to playing Cork,” he said.
“We’ve played at the Marquee before and the atmosphere at those gigs has always been fantastic but to be playing two nights at the stadium will take it to another level.
"I think I played GAA there many years ago but this is a first for Westlife so it’s going to be a real event.”
The two Páirc Uí Chaoimh concerts scheduled for August 28 and 29 will follow their biggest ever gig in London at Wembley Stadium on August 22. They will be only the second Irish act to headline there after U2.
Kian says that fans in Cork can expect a special show that will mark a new departure for Westlife.
“We are very conscious that we need to make these shows real events. I don’t see there being any others so we really want to make it something the fans will remember, not just another Westlife concert.”
Westlife reformed last year following a seven-year break and the band are as popular as ever having recently completed the “Twenty Tour” which sold 600,000 tickets in thirteen countries, including two sold out shows at Dublin’s Croke Park.
“We weren’t sure what we would do following the Croke Park shows,” said Kian.
“We have the new album coming out in November and we were planning shows around that but nothing was definite. Then someone mentioned Páirc Uí Chaoimh and it was just perfect, you couldn’t think of a better venue.”
For Kian, visiting Cork is always extra special as his brother has lived on Leeside for many years so there’s always an Egan family gathering too.
“My brother works for Apple so we always meet up whenever I get to Cork and we make a bit of a family occasion of it too which is great.
"Cork is a beautiful place, I love the countryside and getting down to west Cork too to do a bit of surfing, so for me it really is something to look forward too.”
Kian turns 40 next year so is it any different touring with the band this time around?
“We are so lucky to be doing this. To do it once is fantastic but to get a second bite at the cherry it’s the stuff of dreams really.”
Kian and his wife Jodi Albert now have three young children so the experience this time around is different, he says.
“We’re all a bit older and wiser so it is certainly a different experience than the first time around. When we finished the last time my son was only just born, he’s seven now and he has two siblings and we brought them to most of the UK and Irish shows for the last tour.
“There won’t be any burning the candle at both ends, I need my sleep these days and with three young children you get up early. The fans are older too so the kind of hysteria we used to see isn’t really part of it anymore, we’ve all grown up I suppose!”
Coming to Cork Kian also hopes that he will get a chance to indulge his other great passion in life, surfing.
“If I can arrange it and have the time it’s always great to get to the beach and try to catch some waves and in Cork that’s always an option. We’ll have to see how it goes but hopefully we’ll manage it.”
Home for Kian, Jodi and the children is the beachside village of Strandhill in Sligo, just a few miles from where he grew up. It has the added bonus of being a major surfing beach but for Kian and Londoner Jodi it seemed like the right choice for raising their children.
“We were living between England and Ireland but when it was time for school we had to make a decision. For me I just can’t think of a better place to raise kids and Jodi agreed, she had had enough of city life too, and so we’ve been in Sligo ever since.” Being a hometown boy Kian says he never gets hassled in Sligo as people are so used to them being around.
“Three of us are from Sligo and it’s not a big place so people are well used to us. Sometimes people might ask for a selfie and that’s fine but generally we can get along just like everyone else.”
Kian says there are no plans beyond 2020 and the priority at the moment is to just enjoy the success as much as he can.
“Who knows what will happen, we have the new album in November and we will promote that, then we have the gigs in 2020 and after that there are no plans. We might do something else, we might go our separate ways, but nothing is decided at the moment. We’ll sit down with management some time next year and see how we all feel and we’ll take it from there.”