Ronan Keating - Manchester Arena - 25.5.01

Its hard to imagine a world with no Ronan isn't it. The cheeky little Irish chappy permanently sucking toffees to his hearts content. Some people are born with silver spoons in their mouth. Ronan gets toffee's and he doesn't even have the decency to spit or swallow (Ooh Matron!!!!) before launching into song. Its this strange vocal technique that has seen Ronan rise above the countless other plastic boy band members and become a star in his own right. To be honest when was the last time you played spot the vocals with H from Steps or maybe Justin N'Sync. Exactly point made!!!

True to form and ever the professional Ronan makes an entrance that Mike Tyson would be proud of. Entering from the rear and surrounded by the men in black bodies are promptly cast aside in a style not dis-similar to old John Prescott (Ed: for legal reasons the audience member lost her balance and slipped - honest!!!!). If only all ex-boy band members gigs were this exciting we'd all be cheering on for the Gary Barlow comeback tour complete with a pre-gig support knockabout with Frank Bruno. But the Ronan / Gary connections don't end there. After what can only be described as a stunning display at the Apollo late last year, tonight's gig seems something of a chore. Only "Rollercoaster" and "Lovin' Each Day" genuinely excite the crowd while blank faces look around to the more obscure album tracks and B-sides. If anything you'd guess that a good wedge of this audience were here simply to relive the three Boyzone songs - "Picture Of You", "Love Me For A Reason" and "Baby Can I Hold You". A version of Blur's "Tender" is a somewhat bizarre choice but one of the highlights in an otherwise dull show. Ronan's vocals seem almost perfectly matched for such a song, but its strange that kids of eight can remember so far back.

As he leaves the stage there's almost a sense of relief that its over. His young protégés Westlife absolutely blew the roof off this place just over a  month ago so maybe its time for early retirement. If this is an indication for the 2nd album then lets just hope that Ronan keeps away from the production desk and leaves Greg Alexander to work his magic. If anyone can turn crap into gold its this guy so keep you're fingers crossed for poor old Ronan's sake.

Alex McCann