The Point Depot, Dublin, June 23, 2002
If you're expecting me to go into some pop-star bashing, you're wrong. I'm trying really hard to avoid the tired criticism of boy bands and pop music. Pop music is what it is, take it or leave it. Judge not lest ye shall be judged, kind of thing.I feel sorry for Ronan Keating. Genuinely. He's desperately fighting against relegation to the back pages of "Hello" magazine, and struggling to raise his head above the torrid waters of mediocrity. I mean, in fairness, give him a southside accent and one eyebrow instead of two…and he's Chris de Burgh.
Musically, this gig wasn't great. Apart from a few good strong pop moments, the songs he sings ain't gonna change anyone's world. He eeks his way through the album tracks, "Joy and Pain", "A time for love" and others. The highlights are the obvious ones. "If tomorrow never comes", "You needed me", and an ambitious cover of "Brown eyed girl" (which actually worked). "Life is a rollercoaster" got the place jumping, and when he (quite literally) took off into Elvis' "In the ghetto", The Point Depot went MAD.
My point is this. In the middle of a pretty poignant speech about AIDS awareness, where he obviously wanted people to listen, the crowd started to chant "RO-NAN, RO-NAN!" and I just felt for the guy. I mean, yeah, he used to be a poster and not much more, but he has obviously grown up, and wants to say something. Like that moment at your family reunion, in the middle of a discussion of the virtues of the republican movement, and your cousin, who, last time you looked, was 12, goes "…well, things have changed since De Valera's Ireland". Know what I mean?
Yeah, it's easy to have a pop at our pop stars. It's easy to begrudge Ronan Keating the silver spoon success he has become used to, but why? The man is working hard to carve out a career in his chosen profession. Let's not begrudge him that.