Shane Filan paid an emotional tribute to a Northampton fan who died hours after meeting the former Westlife singer during his headline show at Royal & Derngate on Saturday night.
Filan dedicated the show to the Emma Clayson, 23, who died on February 27 following a lengthy battle with skin cancer – seven days before he played at the venue.
He had previously flown to the UK from Ireland ahead of his UK tour when he learnt Emma’s condition had deteriorated and that she wouldn’t be able to make the show.
During an acoustic section of his set, Filan paused to speak to fans about Emma.
He said: “I went to see Emma. It was amazing to see someone in that position but with such a smile on their face. I invited her family here – thanks for coming and for celebrating her.
“I want to dedicate the whole show to Emma. Thanks to all the fans who raised awareness of Emma’s condition and helped make me meeting her possible.
“When we met, we had a chat and spoke about her favourite song which is Always Tomorrow. It’s not in our set, but we’re going to do it for Emma.”
Filan’s set combined some of the best known songs from his Westlife career as well as hits from his latest solo album Right Hear which was released last year.
Despite the sombre mood while Filan recalled Emma’s story, the majority of his set was a fun-packed singalong of huge pop hits and ballads.
Filan was joined by a live backing band, all perched on pedestals on the stage while a giant screen played accompanying videos and at times displayed fan photos.
Despite being only three shows into his UK tour with the added pressure of performing in front of Emma’s family and his own wife and children, Filan seemed to genuinely enjoy every minute of his set, striding around the stage and up and down a flight of steps between his band members.
He frequently paused between songs to chat to fans, joke about the front few rows being full of familiar faces and encouraged a packed Derngate to “jump up and down and go crazy” to his more upbeat tracks.
The removal of, and putting back on of his jacked became a running joke with cheers and boos from fans all night.
Filan’s set featured solo hits including Right Here and Worst Kind Of Love, with Westlife classics such as Fool Again, Uptown Girl and You Raise Me Up all going down a storm.
Supporting Filan was singer songwriter Joe Miles, who showed support to his hometown by performing wearing a Northampton Saints rugby top.
Being part of one of the biggest boybands of recent times, Filan is destined to be supported by an army of fans wherever he tours.
However, many in Northampton will also remember him for helping to make a dying fan’s dream come true.