Boyzone return for resort date

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When Boyzone take the stage at the Opera House and thousands of middle-aged women try not to faint with excitement, it will bring the memories flooding back for one of the band.

There were no over-excited females throwing themselves at Mikey Graham the first time he came to the resort. Mind you, he was only seven.

“I have a lot of knowledge of Blackpool and I have always loved the place, mainly because I spent my seventh birthday in the town and it was brilliant,” said the 41-year-old from Dublin.

“I was on holiday with my family in Sheffield but on my birthday, as a treat, we drove to Blackpool for the day.

“I vividly remember the journey feeling like a seven hour drive – that’s how it felt to me as a kid.

“But once we were there I had a fantastic time. I was a child and which child doesn’t like Blackpool? It was great.

“We’ve played in Blackpool many times as Boyzone and we’ve always had a lovely time and been made very welcome by the community. It’s just a good town and good fun.”

Graham, speaking to The Gazette ahead of next week’s big gig, joined Boyzone in 1993, aged 21, and embarked on a roller-coaster ride that saw the five-piece become one of the most successful boy bands of all time.

They decided to call it a day in 2000, all tried other things, then got back together in 2007, a reunion still going strong, despite the tragic death of Stephen Gately four years ago.

Explaining why the band got back together, Graham said: “Gary Barlow is a friend of mine and he invited me to go see Take That in Dublin. When I was there I realised I’d been away from that level of excitement for so many years and I thought we could maybe I could do it again.

“Of course the money comes in handy but the main motivation was getting back together with my friends, making music and touring again. I phoned round the lads and eventually we decided to go for it.

“We’re more relaxed now, it’s a different type of experience. We’re not One Direction. It’s quietened down a lot as the fans are older now as well. Instead of fainting when they see us, they say ‘hi’ and ask how the kids are ... it’s all very civilised.” The band have performed in Blackpool several times and played at the Illuminations Switch-On in 2010.

Performing in the town next week will not just bring back memories of his childhood but of their bandmate Gately, who died due to a heart defect at the age of 33.

“I was devastated, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Graham. “Our first tour without Stephen in 2011, emotionally was a terrible experience. We should have left it longer.

“Now we feel stronger, though Stephen will be forever in our thoughts.”

Boyzone are at the Opera House next Wednesday (December 11). Check ticket availability at www.ticketmaster.co.uk

CHLOE BALCOMBE