OK, cards on the table, for the sake of full disclosure I have never liked Westlife. I have long yearned to hear the announcement that they are to split up so that I never have to see them stand up in unison from their stools on the key change and clench their fists earnestly whilst bleating out another sickly ballad. I have absolutely nothing against the chaps themselves, but their music is not to my taste and to me they are the result of three or four generations of boy bands, each one distilling the most successful elements from the previous one to create a super-group designed to pull on just the right heartstrings of teenage girls (and ladies) to milk the maximum amount of sales from each fan. I can see the meetings of the producers and managers in my mind:
"Make sure they are all Irish, that works really well", "we haven't got a pouty one, find me one that matches that demographic", "get me ballads, lot's of ballads", "break out the white clothing and long coats", "how many times have I told you, you have to have a key change"
You get my point - though you may not agree with it. So for 14 years I have watched them ponce about gathering a massive fan base, huge numbers of hits and arguably one of the most profitable careers in the business, adored by millions, whilst I was just hoping to see them split up. Yes, that does make me bitter and jealous, who wouldn't be, but always at the back of my mind was this feeling that they had been created to milk the general public of every penny of their pocket money, like a musical predator. When Brian McFadden left in 2004 my heart leapt, but alas, even this couldn't stop them. Was it the image of Louis Walsh pulling their strings that put me off? Perhaps, but despite all my efforts to expunge them from my memory I actually got used to them, like getting used to having a bunion or asthma.
This week, on Tuesday 18th October, Westlife announced the release of their Greatest Hits album with a stadium tour - tickets on sale on Friday 21st October at 9am. Fine, it's something I have got used to, good luck to them, but yesterday, the 19th, they announced that they were splitting up and that this would be their last ever tour. What perfect timing. It feels like the most cynical, calculated and manipulative move we have ever seen from the Walsh school of squeezing blood out of a stone. It's difficult to believe that the decision to split wasn't known before the announcement of the tour, so to let this grubby little cat out of the bag just after, but just in time to happen before the tickets go on sale leaves a vile taste in the mouth that has managed to do what I thought nothing could; to taint the joy that I thought I would feel about the long awaited split of my Boy Band Nemesis.
Surely a band like Westlife needs no help with ticket or album sales? They could release a cover of Tin Machine and still sell out a stadium, so why not break the hearts of your fans after they have bought their tickets? Now the demand will outstrip supply by a colossal amount, melting down ticket websites that will be trying to sell tickets for other bands like the Stone Roses at the same time. Inevitably the touts will make an absolute fortune out of it, as the face value tickets get snapped up and sold immediately on "tout to fan" sites like Viagogo, Seatwave, Getmein and Ebay for many times their original price. And let's not forget the opportunity that this brings to fraudsters who will already be creating fake sites to con people out of their money. How is that helping anyone?
So good luck to the boys, and I mean that from the heart of my bottom, but next time you reform and split, in a couple of years, make the announcement at a time that I can really savour it, at least for a couple of hours.
Tickets for Westlife are on sale on Friday 21st October 2012. Fake and overpriced tickets will be everywhere, so either use our 100% safe links to ticket sellers here, or check with our Ticket Safe Directory before you buy from any other company.
Pictures: Sakura Henderson