Tonight was an emotional one for Boyzone as they played their final Irish show, 25 years after first crooning, writhing and grinning their way into their fans' hearts.
The brainchild of Irish pop impresario Louis Walsh, the "boy band" – consisting of Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch, Keith Duffy and Mikey Graham – were here to "thank the fans".
Bursting on to the scene in 1994, Ireland’s boyband blueprint boast an impressive history, including six number one singles and five number one albums in the UK.
They were performing a sold-out final show in Dublin’s 3Arena before playing the remaining dates of their Thank You and Goodnight farewell tour across the pond.
In terms of the fans, there’s a wide range of ages present – although, undoubtedly, most are women.
Outside are four in their early 30s wearing masks with the faces of each member. They say they grew up listening to Boyzone, and tonight, for them, it’s all about “the nostalgia factor”. “We used to cut out every single picture from magazines and put them into folders,” explains Tara O’Neill (34). “Every single person in school was crying when they broke up.” “Do you remember the Boyzone snap bracelets?” laughs her friend, Leanne (35).
Inside the foyer, Trevor Halpin and Jason Lennon are here with their young daughters, Belle (12) and Kiya (11). "Their mothers weren't able to make it tonight," says Jason with a grimace. Is he looking forward to the gig? "Absolutely," he says with a wry smile. What do the young girls – born after the group's zenith – think of their music? "Old fashioned," sniffs Kiya, proceeding to mimic a snare drum. Belle is a little more generous. "Nice... Cool," she offers graciously.
As the 13,000-capacity arena fills up, there is a palpable excitement in the air as a video of the band in their 1990s heyday fills the giant screens.
The fans scream like they’re hormonal teenagers all over again as the four piece descend on a platform from the ceiling in glittery garb, grinning from ear to ear.
Duffy, bronzed, coiffed and tattooed, is first to speak to their adoring crowd.
“How are ye. It’s good to be home. When we started releasing music 25 years ago, we released music off cassette tapes and vinyl. But tonight we’re playing the songs from the cassettes . . . Thank you and goodnight but not yet. We’ve a long way to go tonight!”
He’s greeted with a chorus of emphatic cheers, as the band launch into the first song of the night, Who We Are.
Tonight, the boys are home for the last time and it’s clear they plan to make it one to remember.
The screams barely subside as they move from one classic hit to another. Father and Son receives a particularly rapturous reception, the crowd chanting the words like they've been singing them for the last quarter of a decade.
“I know, I have to go,” laments Keating mournfully, the words imbued with new meaning for once-adolescent fans who now have families, jobs and real life responsibilities.
The enthusiasm in the arena is infectious. “If you’ve been to a Boyzone concert before raise your hands,” says Lynch. Impressively, almost the entire crowd responds.
The band keep the hits coming, with the crowd stomping and cheering all the whole way through. When the final song, A Different Beat, begins, they even know the dance moves.
“Oh my God, I can feel my ovaries. This is lit!” says the girl beside me as Keating croons the lyrics to Love Me For A Reason.
The most poignant section of the gig is dedicated to the band's fifth member, the late Stephen Gately, who died in 2009. The last song on the band's final album, Dream, features his vocals from a 17-year-old demo.
“Stephen always liked to have the last word,” says Duffy. “Tonight it’s time to say goodbye to Steo. So let’s do that together one more time.”
Yes, everything good must come to an end, but at least the fans have had one last chance to say goodbye.