Boyzone: A Tribute To Stephen Gately

I would be doing my reputation as a hard-bitten cynic a disservice if I didn’t point out the fact that this tribute to the late Boyzone singer, Stephen Gately, co-incidentally comes a couple of weeks after their latest album release. That being said, I find myself under the inscrutible gaze of the Boyzone Mafia, a terrorist organisation dedicated to kneecapping anyone who speaks ill of the Boyz. So let’s just forget I said that first bit, OK?

So, we’re watching A Tribute To Stephen Gately done in ITV’s An Audience With style. And in all seriousness, Stephen was a well liked figure on the entertainment world, even after the ‘zone imploded. Stephen died on 10 October 2009. He was only 33 years old – which is frightening for people of my generation, because he was only a couple of months older than me.

Anyway, no expense has been spared in putting this show together – there are the usual talking heads: Louis Walsh, as you might expect. Gately’s husband Andrew Cowles shares the first time he saw the Love Me For A Reason video. They even managed to beam in what looked like a holographic Bono and Bertie Ahern, famous for being the chick-lit author Cecelia Ahern’s father. Yes, the creme egg of Irish society turned up for this.

And Nadine Coyle. She turned up too. On the plus side, she sang beautifully. On the minus side, I still can’t understand a bloody word she says in that crazy hybrid Derry/Los Angeles accent. And she looked like a Cheryl Clone. You know you’re wearing too much make-up when you look like a heavily airbrushed magazine cover.

The Boyz give us a run-through of their hits. Why is it that the second coming of Boyzone is slightly less cool than the reuniting of Take That? Maybe we’re just ashamed to admit it, but isn’t Love Me For A Reason every bit as valid as Could It Be Magic for?

I can only hope that the joint appearance of Westlife and Boyzone duetting on No Matter What got the nation’s housewives excited enough to show then nation’s husbands a good time tonight. Undoubtedly the appearance of Mika will have counteracted that a little bit…

The dedicated Boyzone fans will have enjoyed the sensitive retrospective of Stephen’s life – how he came from humble beginnings to be part of an arena-filling act like Boyzone. The documentary parts tell stuff we already knew – how he came out to his family and to the other members of Boyzone, how he moved onto the West End after Boyzone and then did a stint on Dancing On Ice. Friends and professional colleagues spoke fondly of him.

I have to call bullshit on Louis Walsh’s assertion that it took Boyzone a long time to decide to continue without Stephen. If he died in early October, with only two songs recorded that had his vocals on them, then the band had the rest of the album to record, package and prepare a promotional campaign for. In less than five months? Maybe it’s contractual obligations or their own livelihood that’s at stake. But the extended ten-minute advert for Brother at the end of the show edged the proceedings into bad taste.

Was it a fitting tribute to Stephen Gately? Well, that’s ultimately for the fans to decide. I’m not invested enough to judge – but there wasn’t nearly enough music for my liking, and not enough recognisable Boyzone songs. I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence. OK, I can. But it’s only because you never hear A Different Beat, which was a Gately lead vocal if I remember correctly. Grrr.

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