When he was about 17 years old, Ronan Keating and his mates from Boyzone, a pop group on the cusp of global stardom with their 1995 debut album Said and Done, took their first ever long-haul international flight all the way to Bangkok.
Ronan recalls now, over a video call as he lounges on a couch at home in Hertfordshire near London, “It was the greatest shock from a cultural point of view I’d ever witnessed. It was incredible. The colours and smells and energy; it was so exciting for us all as kids. It really opened our mind and our eyes to what the world had to offer.”
In the three decades since, Ronan has experienced several more cultural shocks all around the world, both as part of Boyzone and later as a solo pop artiste with songs such as ‘When You Say Nothing At All’, ‘Lovin’ Each Day’, ‘I Love It When We Do’, ‘The Long Goodbye’ and renditions of songs by other artistes, including ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’ and ‘Father and Son’. If we had to pick one song that sums up the overall aura of Ronan 30 years into his career, it would be ‘Life Is A Rollercoaster’ from his 2000 debut album Ronan.
From the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ronan was a formidable name in pop music in countries such as India, often on the radio and television and performing live a few times as well. Now, the artiste returns to India for his first ever solo tour, after visiting with Boyzone in 2005. Ronan will perform with his live band on November 17 in Mumbai, at the Tape Deck Festival on November 18 in Bengaluru and close with a headlining set at the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival on November 19.
About his Bengaluru show, he says, “I’ve asked the guys to put some stuff together. Obviously I need to be at the concert that night, so I can’t travel too far, but I want to see something cultural in Bangalore.” At this point, Ronan asks for any tips, and we point to how flower markets and gardens would be a good bet, especially if he likes colours. “I love that,” he says with his trademark grin. Visiting India with his wife, Storm, Ronan says he is even more excited about travelling now than when he was 17.
Ronan says they plan to visit Jaipur as part of their India trip, enjoying some downtime as tourists after his three shows. “When I was younger, I didn’t really get to see much of the places that I went to. We literally walked off a plane, into the studio and then back on the plane or to the concert and back on the plane again, so we didn’t get to appreciate where we were,” he says.
On stage, you can expect Ronan’s hits from his solo career and Boyzone. He might just dip into a few album tracks from recent records, like Songs From Home. The excitement has been noticeable for Ronan’s India tour, even as several other international artistes and festivals vie for attention from music lovers.
Ask Ronan about how he has kept his bond strong with his fanbase, and he chalks it down to discipline and passion. He says he has “never stopped in 30 years” as a musician, and the longest he’s taken off is four weeks. “I have never backed away from what I do. I don’t take any performance for granted. I think my audience see that and feel it. I hope that’s what kind of kept me here.”
Following his stops in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Shillong, Ronan will pick back up on what will become his 13th studio album, the follow-up to Songs from Home from 2021. “I’ve just got a lot of ideas. It’s been a tough, personal year — I lost my brother Ciaran. I think, for me, pouring myself into the songs is kind of integral to the writing process. It’s therapeutic.”
Ronan Keating performs in Mumbai on November 17 (tickets on Insider.in), in Bengaluru on November 18 (tickets on Bookmyshow) and in Shillong on November 19 (tickets on rockskitickets.com)