Prepare for the time of your life when Ronan Keating returns to the region later this year.
He’ll be embarking on a tour of his most personal album to date, Time of My Life, which reached the Top 5, his highest-charting solo album in seven years.
With accompanying videos that show footage from the star’s wedding day, a performance from his wife Storm, and never before seen moments from the family’s private collection, the singer has really put his heart on his sleeve.
And he says the subsequent tour will reflect the intimacy of the record - with good old Ronan classics thrown in for good measure.
“I was quite nervous about putting this album out,” he said of his tenth solo album. “It felt like a big deal and it was great to get the reaction it did. “It’s a very heartfelt album, I wore my heart on my sleeve and it was very personal.
“I spent a lot of time looking at other live bands when I was preparing for the tour. I want people to come away feeling enriched, like they’ve experienced something.
“I’ll definitely be doing some of the older songs, there’s nothing worse that feel disappointed when an act doesn’t do the songs they are known for. So I’ll be doing Rollercoaster and You Say It Best. But a large section of the show will be acoustic, it’s a very intimate show. I want to talk to people about the record.
“I never get bored of performing the old tracks, they get such a reaction. Seeing people’s faces when those chords kick in is such a buzz.”
It will be a return to the North East for the star who’s played here countless times with former band Boyzone, and as a solo star.
He said: “Over the years you really get to know people and I do see familiar faces in the crowds. I love coming up to Newcastle, it’s got a brilliant atmosphere and the fans are very loyal. I have friends up there too, so it’s great to see them.”
The album is the culmination of 23 years in the music industry for Ronan, a journey which began way back when with Boyzone. The fresh-faced five piece went on to sell 40 million albums, with Ronan’s subsequent solo career spawning 22 million album sales, 14 solo Number One singles and an Ivor Novello Award for Picture Of You (1997).
Ronan says he never expected to be in the place he is today.
“You never know what’s around the corner,” he said. “I was 16 when it all started and you just fly by the seat of your pants, you just do it, never thinking it will last forever. So for the band to have broken up, for me to have gone solo, and have released my tenth album is crazy. I feel blessed in my life, but I’m not afraid to work, I’m not afraid to graft and that’s reflected in my career.
“Young people come into the industry these days and they don’t realise the graft and commitment that’s required. It’s not an easy career.”
So what is the key to his success?
“I’ve always been courteous and respectful and shook hands and remembered names,” he explained. “There’s a lot of factors to longevity in the industry and, of course, songs people come back for and music, as well as being gracious and hard-working.”
There’s also the variety of Ronan’s career to take into account, a career which has seen him enjoy being a judge on Australian X Factor, coach on The Voice Australia, as well as playing Guy in Once in London’s West End.
“You’ve got to expand and spread yourself, you can’t just do the one thing anymore,” said the 39-year-old. “The landscape of the record industry has changed so dramatically. We don’t have things like Saturday morning TV shows where you used to do performances. You have to do different things or you’ll be forgotten about and replaced.”
Along with his solo pursuits, Ronan’s also found time to record and perform with Boyzone, including Brother, released in memory of late band member Stephen Gately and BZ20 which marked their twentieth anniversary as a group.
“It shows that we’re all committed to this, our friendship is genuine, we’re a brotherhood who have shared so much together,” said Ronan.
Speaking about the early days of the band, he recalls. “At the height of Boyzone it was a melting pot of crazy times. You have this wall built around you that means you can’t look out, but people can’t look in either. It’s such a controlled space, so the people on the road with you become like your family, because they are part of the phenomenon with you.”
As one of the most successful bands of the era, there are numerous highlights, but Ronan says performing No Matter What with opera legend Pavarotti in 1999 was something he’ll never forget.
He said: “There were so many highlights, but one of the times that really stands out is performing with Pavarotti, it was at the peak of Boyzone, a time of private jets and all that madness. We were living the dream and to perform on that international stage with him was just amazing.”
•Ronan Keating plays Newcastle City Hall on September 14 and 15. Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk VIP Meet & Greet and Hot Ticket
packages available from http://vipnation.eu/ronankeating
•We have a pair of tickets to give away to see Ronan at Newcastle City Hall on September 14. To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: which of these is a Ronan Keating track?
A) Life is a Rollercoaster
B) Life is a Waltzer
C) Life is a Ghost Train
Send your answer and contact details to Ronan Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park , Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 5RA.
Alternatively, email your answer and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk. Closing date: August 11.