This was of course always going to be emotional; for a man to die so early into his life was a tragedy, and made arguably all the more so given Stephen’s zest for living.
Naturally, there were any number of clichés to be had about falling and shooting stars and the inevitable praise for Stephen, but none of it felt clichéd; it all came across as truly heartfelt, and that took away the danger of this becoming a sickly-sweet caricature of a tribute.
The whole show was dignified, with no attempts to make the event more poignant and heart wrenching than it inherently was, which added to the quality of the show. And a show it was, which, given Stephen’s own commitment to, and love of show business, was entirely appropriate.
There were also many recorded appearances from stars including Sharon Osbourne, Bertie Ahern, Bono, Robbie Williams, Louis Walsh, Paul O’Grady and Chris Biggins, but even though their words about Stephen were touching, those that touched me most were from Stephen’s sister Michelle and his partner Andrew.
That their grief is still horribly raw was evident, and I cried along with Andrew when he broke down while recalling his phone call with Ronan soon after Stephen’s death. He told how Ronan had “begged me to tell him it wasn’t true. Which of course I couldn’t do…”
And of course, the band members own words about Stephen were touching too. Their description of him as “a brother” was obviously a true one, and quite how they all kept so determinedly unemotional was a feat of professionalism that must’ve hard to achieve.
The closing words were given to Ronan who declared that Boyzone would continue, despite the loss of Stephen, and Michelle and Andrew concurred that that’s what Stephen would’ve wanted.
What a sad loss he was, and this tribute was a fitting, dignified, professional tribute, and an acknowledgement of the contribution Stephen made to the lives of his fans.
If you missed it, you can catch it here on ITV’s Player.