FAME can be a fleeting thing and musical tastes fickle. But the popularity of Irish singing superstar Daniel O’Donnell has endured, with his blend of sentimental ballads and warm humour attracting a fiercely loyal army of fans.

The singer spoke of his excitement at meeting his supporters in the region as he prepares to return to the Sage Gateshead with his new band and special guest Mary Duff on Thursday, April 26.

He said: “We always get a great welcome from your part of the world. The Sage Gateshead is a nice place to be. It has such a lovely atmosphere. I have been at Sage and before that many times to Newcastle’s City Hall.

“The fans come out in a force to welcome us and I am hoping it will be the same this time. The concert will feature mixture of music and from more recent recordings. Hopefully people will enjoy it – it’s always about enjoyment.”

He added: “I am looking forward to seeing everybody and thanking them for all their support. There are some people now that are not able to get to the shows. Every year people write to me a say they are just not fit to come, because a lot of the people are older, that used to come.

“Thankfully now there are a new batch of people coming out, But it’s a big hello to those who are not able to make it as well.”

O’Donnell spoke also of his two-year break from touring between 2014 and 2016 to spend more time with his wife Majella, who was recovering from breast cancer.

He said: “She’s doing great now. In August she reaches her five-year period since she has been clear of cancer. It’s quite a milestone for having a better chance. She was very lucky her diagnosis was early and she had all the treatment and everything went really well, as you can expect.

“It was worrying time. When you get the diagnosis the first thought is, “Is this it?” but, thank God, so many people survive now and the medical profession is making great ground in treatment.

“It makes you realise that life can change in a heartbeat and to enjoy life. It’s important to enjoy what you do and realise what you are here for.”

O’Donnell has since returned to complete sell-out tours of the UK, US, Australia New Zealand and Sri Lanka, maintaining his popularity with his world-wide fans.

Reflecting on success, he said: “I have a great following down through the years. Very loyal. I think it as that as much as my music that plays a part in my success.

“The type of music I sing people enjoy . . . it’s not maybe quite a fickle as the the types of music that younger people maybe prefer. Singers come and go very quickly. But the music I do a lot of the people who are more mature and enjoy it always like it.

“I have got to know a lot of the people over the years, some better than others. It is great to be able to meet people at shows and after shows and have that connection. It is good for me too, when I come out on a stage and look out and see people that I recognise, that I have known for years.”

He added: “My initial start was important. The first song that got noticed was my Donegal Shore. It was an Irish ballad that I recorded in 1983. By 1986 it started getting an awful lot of radio play in Ireland and that solidified its place as far as I am concerned.

“And then songs over the years have been important and coming over here to do the concerts. A lot of local radio and television was very important, at the time, which is different now, because it has become very centralised.

“And a good band and a very good team around me. they were very supportive. All things have contributed to my success. It is a combination of everything being right at the right time.”

“I never thought I would have all the opportunities I’ve had, so I am very grateful so I wold like a little more.”

Since the Millennium, he has sold more than four million units and broke his own world record earlier this year by becoming the first recording artist to chart at least one new album a year in the Artist Album Chart for 30 consecutive years – outshining everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna to U2 and the Rolling Stones.

He said: “As well as doing original songs, I’ve recorded a lot of older music and covers. So there is an endless amount of songs that I have that I’ve thought I must do. I’m never out of music to record.”

  • Daniel O’Donnell, Sage Gateshead, Thursday, April 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets £46.30 to £49.10 from the Sage box office on 0191-443 4661 or visit the website www.sagegateshead.com