Newly-formed boyband supergroup Boyz On Block are playing Dundee tonight and they couldn’t be more thrilled – just ask ex-Five heartthrob Abz Love.
The 40-year-old – real name Richard Breen – has teamed up with Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, Another Level’s Dane Bowers and Phats & Small’s Ben Ofoedu to dazzle fans across the country.
The group came together after crossing paths at Bournemouth Pride last year – and are kicking off a nostalgia-fuelled tour of the UK in Dundee.
Five were known for a string of hit singles in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including Keep on Movin, Slam Dunk (Da Funk) and When the Lights Go Out.
“We caused a little ruckus with Five (also known as 5ive) back in the day, but this time around it’s nice to be working with people that, like, we’ve got respect for each other,” he said.
“We’re just bringing the hype, like a block party where you’ve just stuck on a copy of Now 27 – it’s going to be a load of fun.”
As well as performing some of their own hits, they’ll be mixing things up with one-hit wonder treats from other boybands and turns on the DJ decks.
Abz found fame as a teenager with Five after being recruited by legendary music executive Simon Cowell.
After a storied career touring the world, the band split in 2001. A solo album followed for Abz, but thereafter fame took a toll, and the singer developed a substance problem and episodes of psychosis that threatened to kill him.
These days, after a spell running his own farm in Wales, he lives with his mum in London, together with German spitz pups Louis and Geo – and he couldn’t be happier playing a run of bingo halls.
“To me, if it was a show in my front room and someone was getting a kick out of it I’m just grateful.
“I’m grateful for the small things; as small as they might seem, I don’t care.
“I’ve had the penthouses, I’ve toured the world, but now I’m back at my mum’s. But I’m grateful.
“After 5ive there was the sex, drugs rock and roll – I was going mad, seeing things. I was using MDMA, I was addicted to Xanax, marijuana, I thought I was going to be dead at 25.
“I met the Devil, I was that low. He looked like me, but he had his hood up. That shook me so hard, right to the core. It made me sober up.
“Anyone reading this should know – you can’t do it on your own.
“You have to talk to somebody. It gets better, as horrible as it seems. I’m proof you can pull through.
“Life is so short, and I used to take it for granted. I’m lucky I got the break I did.”
The singer is well aware of how pop has changed over the years – and he’s happy to surf the wage of nostalgia.
“They don’t make performers like us anymore. These days it’s all about social media – everyone thinks they need the likes.
“There’s a lot of normal people that are going round struggling with their ‘status’. It’s mad when you see people posing in gym shorts and trying to sell them to people – it’s not even real!
“I’m really bad at it – I’m all about the right here, right now.”
Abz reckons the Boyz On Block have the potential to record an album. The group has even produced a cover of 90s EMF banger Unbelievable which they hope to release as the official Sport Relief single.
— Ben Ofoedu (@BigBenOfoedu) February 27, 2020
But should Five ever come calling again, he remains open to the possibility of a further reunion.
“I just speak to J (ex-Fiver Jason Brown). The rest of them are just carrying on as a three.
“I loved Five. I still do. But I would say things the others wouldn’t. I said ‘nipple’ on Radio 1 once and they went crazy.
“I’m just making the absolute most of this – the way I should have the first time around.”
A handful of tickets are still left for tonight’s show at Mecca Bingo Douglasfield, which can be purchased on www.eventbrite.co.uk