Boy-band life is a bit like the sports car you coveted in your youth. The aesthetic is bold. The arresting sound turns the heads of women. And, above all, it seems like one hell of a ride.
Alas, if you’ve ever reconsidered that bright-red Porsche in your adulthood, the sentiment “What the hell was I thinking?” may be all too familiar.
Reminiscing about questionable Nineties fashion is former Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating. “I remember there was one outfit I wore on stage that was a zebra-print suit with a matching cowboy hat. It was so wrong,” says the Irish megastar.
Truth is, style over substance is a trademark of the boy-band package. “With Boyzone, image was everything: what we wore, how we wore it and how we looked after ourselves,” says Keating. “Image in the beginning was more important than the music.”
An original member of Boyzone from the age of 16, Keating helped shift more than 25 million records before embarking on a stellar solo career, which produced global hits including When You Say Nothing At All and If Tomorrow Never Comes.
A fixture on the talent-show scene since 2010 as a judge on The X Factor and The Voice, Keating says his decades in the industry have given him a keen eye for the look of success. Here to promote his latest show, All Together Now (which premiers soon on Channel 7), he suggests the tendency to make instant judgments about performers
“When a contestant walks out you try not to look at them in that sense,” he says, “but sometimes you can’t help but go, ‘This guy looks like a star!’”
Transitioning between outfits on the set of MH’s style shoot, it’s clear Keating has found his sartorial swagger. Gone is the time when a denim tuxedo would meet with the screaming approval of fans. These days, Keating favours a more understated look.
“Simplicity is everything, I’ve found, as I’ve gotten older,” he says. “As a 41-year-old man, I think tailoring is crucial, along with being clever with your hair product and not taking bold fashion risks.”
That said, the father-of-four admits he doesn’t always get it right. “I sent my eldest son a photo of some boots I bought the other day and he replied, ‘Yeah, they’re fresh’. I asked him if he would wear them and he responded with a blunt ‘No’. My son is far cooler than me.”
His biggest critic? His Australian wife. “I will always ask Storm what she thinks. I think feeling attractive to your partner is really important and feeling like you look good next to them is important for your relationship.”
Whatever its fashion sins, the boy band is a powerful force; Boyzone re-formed in 2007 and have been busy ever since. However, the title of their upcoming album, Thank You and Good- night, suggests Keating and co have finally decided to put the baby to bed.
Between the album’s release in mid-November, a Boyzone farewell tour kicking off early next year and a one-year-old to chase around, Keating is far from slowing down. His advice for living your forties in style? Ease. “When you don’t look comfortable in your own clothes, it shows. Own the risks you take and at the very least learn to tie a bow tie.”
Here’s to growing older then. You’ll wear it well.