THE process of leaving world-conquering bands and heading off on your own is beset on all sides by the car wrecks of failed solo careers.
However, someone who has navigated the choppy early waters of the solo life, delivering a solid first album and selling tens of thousands of tickets to loyal fans, is former Westlife singer, Shane Filan.
He exclusively spoke to Gazette Music ahead of the start of his first-ever British and Irish tour in Liverpool last Thursday, which will end in a three-day celebration at the Olympia on March 11, 12 and 13.
He said: “I’m really excited ahead of the first show in Liverpool; I don’t know what to expect. It’s the first-ever Shane Filan concert, which is kind of weird.
“It’s hitting home that I’m on my own solo tour now, and it’s really exciting,” he said.
Having had a long career with Westlife, and having taken to considerably bigger stages than the ones he will stand on in the coming weeks, Shane said he was a little nervous ahead of the tour.
He said: “I’m playing in theatres, playing to 2,000 to 3,000 people a night, which to me, right now, feels like 80,000.”
Before becoming a solo artist, Shane was able to prepare for the future while still in Westlife as they made the announcement of their split some eight months ahead of going their separate ways.
He said: “Once we decided we were going to split as a band, we all started planning what we were going to do, and for me the only thing I wanted to do was sing.
“So I mentally had to prepare for that – for the end of Westlife. It was a daunting thing to walk out of such a massive band and take on a new role and stand on the stage on my own.
“The band ended and all the other stuff that happened – financially, I wasn’t in a good place – it was a scary time for me. I had no certainty going forward, as I had no record deal and no songs.
“But, once the process [of recording the album, You And Me] started last January, that was it,” he said.
The record is a set of bright and catchy pop songs with a country tinge, something that came from Shane’s experience working and writing new music in Nashville, which inspired and gave him confidence in his solo venture, as well as giving it a clear direction.
He said: “I was three or four weeks into the writing process, and the record company booked me to go to Nashville. That, straight away, was daunting, as it is where some of the best songwriters in the world live, so you can’t go over there and not come back with something.
“It was a bit of pressure straight away, and I was thrown in at the deep end, but I learned a lot. I got to write with some amazing writers. I found my sound, and I love the country-pop style.”
With such a vast back catalogue of tracks as well as his new solo material, Shane said he found it tricky to pick the ideal set list for the tour.
“It’s not just about performing your songs, you need to make it a show, make it interesting and exciting, up-tempo and ballads as well.
“I think it’s a good set list; there are a lot of Westlife numbers [too], which I think is important. I have tried to make them fit in to my style of music, changing them here and there, and the set list really flows now.”
As for ending the tour in Dublin, Shane says that he was delighted that he got such support from his home audience that he was able to add the additional shows when the first one sold out.
He said: “No better place to finish it up. The Olympia is such an iconic venue!