It is now more than 13 years since another colour-by-numbers manufactured Irish boy band fell into Boyzone's wake causing the universe to tut and roll its eyes. Whatever next? As if the world had any interest in another white boy band. As if.
More than 40 million albums later - 11 million in the UK alone - Westlife are still pootling along very nicely. When Brian McFadden departed in 2004 to pursue a solo career (you remember Brian?), many predicted that Westlife's fragile formula would be upset and, much like The Spice Girls and Take That before them, the house of cards would come crashing down soon enough. As if a little singing project like Westlife could survive such a blow. As if.
Seven years after McFadden departed, Kian, Shane, Mark and Nicky are in better shape than ever. Somewhat surprisingly, Westlife have so far released just one greatest hits compilation, back in 2004. A second is due for release next month and following the new compilation, in what has become something of an annual fixture, the boys will be embarking on a UK arena tour in May 2012.
The 'The Greatest Hits Tour' will see Westlife perform their 14 number one singles and more at the UK's biggest arena venues, including all the usual favourites.
The 2012 tour kicks off in Newcastle on Monday 14th May, followed by gigs at arenas in Liverpool, Cardiff, Sheffield, Birmingham, Nottingham, London (O2) and the Manchester MEN Arena, before the final date announced so far at the SECC in Glasgow on Sunday 27th May.
We will have tickets for all dates when they go on sale at 9AM on Friday 21st October 2011, priced from £38.50 to £44 for The O2 and £41.50 for all other venues. As always with Westlife, ticket sales are expected to be brisk so you'll need to be quick to secure the date(s) you want. Dates for an Irish tour are also imminent according to Mark's Twitter account (@MarkusFeehily).
Also, who knows when the Westlife rollercoaster will finally grind to a halt? It's not as if they'll keep going for another 13 years. As if.
Footnote: And irony of ironies, Westlife have now announced that they are to split up after the tour.
After the first O2 arena show sold out and a second was added, demand is so high that a third has now been announced along with another eight regional dates.
The additional shows begin in Nottingham on 5th June, then the third O2 date on 7th June, before new dates in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle and finally (for now) Glasgow.
We will have tickets for the additional gigs when they go on sale at 9AM on Friday 28th October, priced £44 for London and £41.50 for all other venues.
Tickets for the second O2 show, on 24th May, are on sale now priced £44.
True to their word, Westlife announced the first of their Ireland dates at Croke Park in Dublin for Saturday 23rd June, supported by The Wanted! Tickets went on sale on 11th November and promptly sold-out (in 4 minutes, no less), so they've gone and added another Dublin date - this new one for Friday 22nd June. Tickets will go on sale on Friday 18th November at 8AM, priced from 59.50. Set the alarm clock to avoid disappointment!